An Australian court on Wednesday reversed a ban on the sale of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy tablet computers in the country, handing it a rare victory against rival Apple Inc in the firms' intensifying global patent war.
Samsung welcomed the decision, but the ruling does not mean it can immediately resume sales because the court granted Apple a stay on lifting the Australian sales ban until Friday afternoon.
It's hard to expect the ruling to have a major positive impact on Samsung's tablet business or legal cases in other countries as Apple could appeal against the ruling and sales won't be restored anytime soon, said Song Myung-sub, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities in Seoul.
Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market as Amazon appears to be the only viable real threat at the moment and other vendors including Samsung continue to struggle.
Lawyers for Apple declined to comment to reporters after the ruling, but the request for a stay on lifting the temporary sales ban could give time for an appeal to be launched.
Still, the Federal Court's decision to support Samsung's appeal is a boost for the South Korean technology company ahead of the busy pre-Christmas shopping season. While the Australian market is not large, it is a key launch market for Apple products outside the United States.
Apple was granted an injunction against Samsung in October, temporarily preventing Australian sales of the Galaxy 10.1 tab, the hottest competitor to Apple's iPad, which dominates global tablet sales.
We believe the ruling clearly affirms that Apple's legal claims lack merit, Samsung Electronics Australia said in a statement. The company said it would soon make an announcement on the market availability of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia.
Justice Lindsay Foster told the court the interlocutory injunction granted by Justice Annabelle Bennett last month should be immediately discharged. But he also said he would grant a stay on orders until Friday 4 p.m. (0500 GMT) and said Apple would have to go to the High Court if it wanted this extended.
BATTLE IN 10 COUNTRIES
Apple and Samsung have been locked in an acrimonious battle in 10 countries involving smartphones and tablets since April, with the Australian dispute centring on touch-screen technology used in Samsung's new tablet.
Apple successfully moved to block Samsung from selling its tablets in Germany and a case in the Netherlands has forced Samsung to modify some smartphone models.
Apple also filed a preliminary injunction request in Germany on Monday to ban sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a redesigned version of 10.1-inch galaxy tab model, whose sales are banned in the country.
The quarrel between Samsung and Apple had triggered expectations some of the pair's $5 billion-plus relationship may be up for grabs. Samsung counts Apple as its biggest customer and makes parts central to Apple's mobile devices.
The legal battle in Australia doesn't stop at tablet computers. Samsung has sought to block sales of Apple's latest iPhone 4S, which went on sale in early October, by filing preliminary sales injunction requests in four countries, including Australia.
An Australian court has agreed to hear that case in March and April of 2012, with sales allowed to continue as normal ahead of the hearing on alleged patent infringements.
Shares in Samsung, valued at around $140 billion, were up 0.1 percent in a Seoul market down 0.8 percent.
(Additional reporting by Miyoung Kim in Seoul; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Ed Davies and Matt Driskill)