Apple blocks Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in Australia

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple and Samsung continue to battle back and forth over several patent disputes, and it looks like one country is becoming a casualty.

Samsung and Apple came to an agreement in their patent dispute in Australia, under which Samsung has agreed not to advertise the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or to sell it in the country until the suit between the two companies is resolved, according to a story from TechCrunch. Samsung needs either court approval to sell its device, or for the lawsuit to come to a close under the agreement.

The agreement holds up the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which Apple says violates 10 iPad patents, according to Bloomberg. Apple is fighting Samsung in lots of different venues, including the U.S., where it is working to convince the International Trade Commission to ban imports of the South Korean company’s tab for infringing on Apple’s patents. Those patents concern both hardware internally and the external design of the tablet, which Apple has claimed in an injunction request to the ITC are evidence of Samsung copying Apple’s device.

Part of the agreement has Samsung discontinuing advertising for its tab, which it has been pushing in Australia since July 20. For its part, Apple has agreed to pay Samsung legal damages should a judge side with the South Korean tech company.

Samsung has said the Australian Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be different from the U.S. version, the one Apple has sued over. It’s possible, perhaps likely, that Samsung has made changes in the design to dodge Apple’s legal strafing in order to be able to sell the device with impunity. For Samsung though, an Australian judge will still need to take a look at the device before the company is free to sell it in Australia right now.

Samsung’s legal team has also said that Apple will be able to review three of the Australian Galaxy Tabs at least a week before they’re set to go on sale in the country to verify that they are as different as Samsung has claimed.

But the legal battle remains a mess in other places, where Apple has sued Samsung (as well as HTC, another device maker) and Samsung has countersued. And the battle is a big deal, with a lot of money at stake – Samsung and Apple currently lead the smartphone markets, and Samsung’s tab is certainly capable of taking the lead on the Android side of the market.

Unfortunately, the Australian developments in the case don’t shed any additional light on how things will shake out in any other part of the world. Apple and Samsung remain in a death grip awaiting the rulings of judges – and those rulings will undoubtedly have a big impact on both companies’ businesses.