29 August 2011

Breaking News – Apple and Samsung Back in Australian Court

Apple and Samsung were back in the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney this morning, to continue their ‘discussions’ over the fate of Samsung’s iPad-challenging Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The purpose of today’s ‘directions hearing’ was to set the timetable for the next stages of Apple’s patent infringement suit against Samsung, which commenced at the beginning of August, and resulted in a delay in the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, originally intended for 11 August 2011 (see It’s Apple vs Samsung Down-Under as Smartphone War Escalates).

As we predicted, it is being reported in the Fairfax press today that Samsung has indeed already complied with its undertaking to provide Apple with three samples of its proposed Australian product.  However, while Samsung had apparently been planning a new launch date of 12 September 2011, it seems that this may now be further delayed to permit a more substantive hearing to take place in relation to Apple’s request for an injunction, sometime in late September.

Unsurprisingly, Samsung has also indicated its intention to countersue (as most defendants to patent infringement do), claiming that Apple’s patents are invalid.  Samsung has also apparently threatened Apple with a further lawsuit alleging that the iPad infringes Samsung’s patents.

We remain of the opinion that Apple is highly unlikely to obtain a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.  A more-detailed hearing will almost certainly reveal firstly that the issues in the patent infringement and validity cases are too complex for any clear view to be reached in interlocutory proceedings, and that the tablet market is highly competitive such that the harm to Samsung in erroneously granting a preliminary injunction would exceed the harm to Apple of not granting an injunction.  Apple will, in any event, entitled to claim compensation from Samsung for all intervening sales if it were ultimately successful in an infringement claim.

A further hearing is scheduled to take place at 2.15pm, AEST, to settle the timetable for the next stage of the proceedings.  We will provide a further update as the dust clears in the next day or so.

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