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Apple delays Samsung’s Galaxy Tab launch in Australia

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple has stepped up its efforts to stop the launch of Samsung’s allegedly iPad-copying Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, and the Korean device manufacturer has agreed to delay launching it until Sept. 30 pending the outcome of hearings on Sept. 26 and 29.

According to a story from the Sidney Morning Herald, Samsung isn’t sitting back as Apple sues it in Australia over patent infringement, and plans to counter-sue in the country claiming Apple’s infringement of its own patents. The Australian case is the latest in a series of cases that span the globe, in which Apple is claiming universally that the look and feel of its iPad has been copied by Samsung. Suits are going forward in the U.S. and Europe, and cases in Germany and The Netherlands have resulted in injunctions against Samsung selling the Galaxy Tab in those countries.

In Australia, Samsung was working pretty hard to avoid this very scenario. The company is actually releasing a new version of the Galaxy Tab specifically for Australia, which it was planning to launch the week of Sept. 12, and even gave Apple three of the devices to inspect for a week in order for Apple to make sure it had to patent problems with it. But Apple apparently isn’t satisfied with the changes and has decided to go forward with the suit, and that has put to bed any chance of the launch happening until the end of next month.

Here’s a quote from the SMH story:

Apple's counsel said that while the modified version had ‘some reduced functionality’ it ‘will still infringe’. They sought orders from the court re-affirming the previous block on sales of the US model and asked for a new order to prevent the sale of the Australian version at least until a hearing can take place at the end of September.

Samsung is arguing that Apple hasn’t presented any new evidence that’s sufficient to prove infringement with its new device, but it deferred to the judge in the case to delay the launch of the tablet. That allowed for new dates to be set for when the hearings can take place and both sides’ arguments can be heard.

According to Samsung, Apple has said it plans to sue on the original 18 patents in the case, plus five more that the company was granted on Aug. 11. For its part, Samsung said it would be challenging Apple’s patents “on grounds such as that the iPad’s design is not ‘novel’ (i.e. others had released similar designs earlier).” It also said it would provide “prior art,” or examples of other iPad-like devices. According to the SMH, that’s exactly what Samsung did in its U.S. case with Apple – it played a clip from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which characters use an iPad-like device. Samsung would also have a lot of ammunition if it pulled up old reruns of the various Star Trek TV shows.

From the sounds of things, don’t expect these cases to end anytime soon. The Australian case will be ruled on officially at the end of September, but it seems like Apple is gunning hard for Samsung and its Galaxy Tab. Meanwhile, Samsung isn’t rolling over, and these two companies could be at each other’s throats for a while.