The Federal Court of Australia has granted an interim injunction against the sale of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.
The judgment, handed down at midday on Thursday by Justice Annabelle Bennett, prevented Samsung from selling the tablet in Australia until a final hearing of Apple's patent claims.
Reasons for the judgment were ruled to be confidential until a directions hearing scheduled for Friday of this week.
Apple alleged Samsung had infringed up to 13 patents in Australia in attempting to launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 locally but had focused on five of these to gain a temporary injunction.
During the course of hearings, Apple's counsel removed one of these patent claims while Samsung undertook to remove features relating to two further patents from the Australian version of the tablet.
It left two remaining patents relied on by Apple to push its case, comprising a heuristics patent (2007286532), which corrected a user's intended finger gestures on the touch screen, and the manufacturing techniques behind the iPad and iPad 2's touch screen (2005246219).
The judgment comes as the first major step in an ongoing patent battle between the South Korean manufacturer and Apple initially launched in Australia in late July.
It is one of several cases before courts in countries including the US, South Korea, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.
Samsung has filed its own claims against Apple claiming infringements against its wireless communication patents in Australia and has more recently attempted to block the sale of the new iPhone 4S in Italy and France.
A date for final hearings has not been set, with Samsung's counsel unwilling to meet in November this year, as suggested by Apple.
Apple refused to comment on the ruling.
A Samsung spokesman said the company was "disappointed" with the result.
"Samsung will be seeking legal advice on its options," the spokesman said.
"Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple‘s claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers.
"We will continue to legally assert our intellectual property rights against those who violate Samsung’s patents and free ride on our technology."
First for Australia
Mark Summerfield, an intellectual property specialist with patent firm Watermark, said the decision is likely the first of its kind in Australia for a consumer technology product.
The Federal Court's changing approach to interim injunctions in recent years is a result of pharmaceutical patent trials, which had also formed the basis of Apple's argument Samsung had infringed its products with "eyes wide open".
Beginning of the end?
The injunction could spell the end for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, after Samsung's lawyers claimed that any further delays would effectively kill any chance the device had of gaining traction in Australia ahead of Christmas.
Samsung has already delayed the tablet three times over the course of the past three months in order to allow the interlocutory hearings to continue.
A full patent trial, likely to begin next year, could take a further 12 months prior to a final decision, according to Summerfield.
"They’re going to argue there’s no way you can compensate us because not only have we lost sales for that period we have lost future sales because it will simply not be viable to bring that to market," he said.
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