South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co.'s hopes of launching its Galaxy range of tablet computers in Australia for the Christmas holiday season suffered a big blow on Tuesday when rival California-based Apple Inc. refused its offer to settle the legal dispute on tablet technology.

Apple is seeking a ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab, which the American company says infringes on its patent for touch-screen technology.

Specifically, Apple's lawyer told the Federal Court in Sydney that the offer from Samsung provided no basis for a settlement and the court should stop the launch.

The main reason we are here is to prevent the launch (of the Galaxy tablet) and maintain the status quo, Steven Burley, Apple's legal counsel, told the court.

Although Samsung is believed to favor a hearing sometime next year, which will give the South Korean company time to organize its defense, it may be forced to move quickly or risk losing the Galaxy Tab 10.1's relevance to the Australian market.

If we can't get a decision out by mid-October, there is no urgency, Neil Young, a lawyer for Samsung, was quoted by Reuters as saying. Young also added that it might take until March to fully prepare Samsung's defense.

Samsung and Apple are already involved in as many as 20 cases against each other, in nine countries.

Apple won a similar case, filed in Germany, last month, leading to the ban of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 by the German courts.

According to a Reuters report, some analysts expect Samsung to overtake Apple, in unit terms, as the world's leading smartphone vendor and report record profits from its mobile business, for the period July-September.