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Jun 28, 2012 12:36 PM IST | Source: ft.com

Apple blocks US sales of Galaxy Tab 10.1

Apple has won a court order blocking US sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in a significant victory against the South Korean competitor in the long-running legal battle over smartphone and tablet patents.


Apple has won a court order blocking US sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in a significant victory against the South Korean competitor in the long-running legal battle over smartphone and tablet patents.


US District Judge Lucy Koh, in San Jose, California, issued the order on Tuesday as a federal appeals court told her to reconsider Apple's request on the tablet after she rejected a similar request in December.


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"The public interest favours the enforcement of patent rights," the judge said. "Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products."


The sales ban is a setback for Samsung, which recently won a favourable ruling from a Dutch court on the patent disputes with Apple. A court in The Hague last Thursday ruled that Apple had violated a Samsung patent over how certain iPhones and iPads connect to the internet.


Samsung said it was "disappointed" by the latest ruling as Apple's infringement claim was based on only one aspect of the overall product. Samsung introduced three models of its Galaxy Tab tablet into the US last year and launched an upgraded model of the Galaxy 10.1 in May. "We will take necessary legal steps and do not expect the ruling to have a significant impact on our business operation, as we possess a diverse range of Galaxy Tab products," the company said.


But the latest US court decision is likely to give Apple the upper hand in remaining court cases and future negotiations on loyalty payments and cross-licensing deals, analysts said. "It remains to be seen but the sales ban means that the US court is likely to accept Apple's claims in the final court ruling as well," said Lee Se-chul at Meritz Securities in Seoul. The trial for the main proceedings of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung in California is scheduled to begin on July 30


Since 2010, the two technology companies have been engaged in more than 30 legal suits on four continents against each other. Apple accuses Samsung of copying the design of its iPhone and iPad in its Galaxy products, while Samsung counterclaims that Apple's products violate its telecoms technology.


The ruling also comes as Apple tries to make deeper inroads into Samsung's stronghold, announcing on Wednesday it was expanding its iTunes store in Asia to include sales of music and movies in nine regional markets including Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. So far, most Asian consumers have only been able to buy applications from the App Store.

Apple remains a dominant player in the fast-growing global tablet market, controlling 63% of the global tablet market, compared with Samsung's 7.5% market share, according to market researcher DisplaySearch. But competition is expected to intensify in the tablet market with Microsoft entering the market and Google preparing its own tablet offering.

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