Samsung Wins Early Australia Trial on Apple Infringement Claim

Samsung Electronics Co., embroiled in patent disputes with Apple Inc. around the globe, won an early trial on its claim that the iPhone and iPad 2 in Australia infringe its patents on 3G wireless transmissions.

Australia Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett today ordered that a trial on Samsung’s claims be held in March. Cupertino, California-based Apple had opposed an early trial, with its lawyer Stephen Burley saying the company needed more time to prepare the case and favored a hearing in August.

Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones last quarter, dropped its bid for a temporary injunction barring Apple from selling the iPhones and iPad 2 and instead is seeking an early hearing. The Australian trial will be a prelude for Samsung in its U.S. case before the International Trade Commission on similar claims, which Burley said will be heard in May and June.

Burley had sought to delay the Australian trial to August, after the ITC hearing. The ITC has the power to block imports of products found to infringe U.S. patents.

The world’s two biggest makers of smartphones and tablet computers have widened their litigation to Europe, Japan and Australia since Apple sued Samsung in the U.S. in April, claiming the Suwon, South Korea-based company “slavishly” copied the designs of iPhones and iPads.

‘Informal Policy’

Samsung and Apple had a “very close relationship” until April, Samsung’s lawyer Neil Young told the judge today, with Samsung adhering to an “informal policy” not to pursue patent claims to maintain the relationship.

That was terminated in April, Young said. Apple never sought to obtain a license from Samsung, although “other major players” have, he said, without identifying the companies.

Samsung sued Apple in Australia in September, claiming the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 infringed its patents for wireless transmission. The lawsuit was in response to Apple’s request for a court order barring the sale of the Galaxy Tablet 10.1 in Australia, claiming the device infringed its patents. Bennett granted Apple’s request for an injunction on Oct. 13.

Samsung has appealed the ruling, with a hearing before the full court of the federal court scheduled for Nov. 25.

Samsung also sought an order from Bennett declaring that Apple’s patents, at issue in the Galaxy tablet dispute, be revoked. Samsung claims the Apple patents on touch screen technology, sliding to unlock, scroll bounce and scrolling photos aren’t new.

The case is: Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. NSD1243/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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