Galaxy Tab 10.1 heads to Christmas shelves

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Galaxy Tab 10.1 heads to Christmas shelves

Update: Apple loses leave to High Court appeal.

Samsung could sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia as early as Monday after Apple lost its special leave application in the High Court this morning.

It is expected Samsung will move forward with a "high-velocity" launch of the tablet, issuing orders to import the Australian version of the tablet into the country almost immediately and beginning commercial sales of the device by Monday.

Samsung Australia vice-president of telecommunications, Tyler McGee, confirmed tablet stock would be available "next week" with some retailers beginning pre-sales of the device today.

A 16GB version of the tablet will be available for a recommended retail price of $579 for Wi-Fi-only and $729 for 3G connectivity.

A 64GB version will also be available but the company would not price the model.

It is the first time the tablet has been condoned for legal sale in Australia since the Federal Court delayed and subsequently imposed an interlocutory injunction on the tablet in October.

Apple had initially won a temporary ban on the tablet in establishing likelihood of success in a final hearing on the basis of two patents, as well as the strength of its case in maintaining the status quo in the Australian tablet market.

A full Federal Court overturned the injunction last month but granted Apple a stay of the orders until the High Court could hear its special leave to appeal.

That stay was extended last week by High Court Justice John Heydon until today but will now be lifted, allowing Samsung to sell the device.

"Samsung Electronics Australia is pleased with today’s judgment by the High Court of Australia to deny Apple’s request to appeal the decision of the Full Court," a spokeswoman for the South Korean manufacturer said.

Apple did not add to its original statement, claiming the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was a "blatant" copy of the iPad.


The original (left) and modified (right) versions of the Galaxy Tab 10.1


The changes

The local version of the tablet differs slightly from versions released elsewhere.

Samsung had made a total of ten changes to the tablet's make - including adding its branding to the front of the tablet and stripping down some software and hardware functionality - to meet some of Apple's concerns.

Samsung's McGee would not detail the changes made to the device but acknowledged that it would retain changes made as result of the legal proceedings.

He said, however, that the changes were "subtleties".

Some of the changes made to the Australian version of the device - such as Samsung branding on the front - have since been carried across to newer stock available elsewhere.

The tablet would be carried by several major retailers as well as Vodafone and Optus, despite claims by Samsung during court proceedings that continued delays to the tablet's launched had caused ill will between the South Korean manufacturer and retailers.

Despite the delays, McGee was confident the tablet would sell out of imported stock.

A thicker version of the tablet - the 10.1v - is already available in Australia through local carriers while a third major revision - the 10.1n - had been made available in Europe to circumvent litigation there.

It is expected the local version slated for release next week will retain the vanilla Galaxy Tab 10.1 branding.

The decision

 A 40-minute special leave hearing in Sydney's High Court offices this morning saw Apple and Samsung both present their arguments in the special leave hearing before High Court Chief Justice Robert French, Justice William Gummow and Justice Virginia Bell.

After consideration of the arguments, the court denied special leave to Apple on the grounds the iPad maker had "insufficient prospects of success" in achieving a High Court appeal against the full Federal Court decision.

Chief Justice French said the High Court had also considered the issue that the full Federal Court's decision last month already provided "detailed considerations of the strength of [Apple's] case".

"The orders of full court discharging disjunctive relief granted by the primarily judge are now fully in effect," he said.

The High Court judges appeared to sway in favour of Samsung in the first instance, with Justice Gummow suggesting Apple had won its initial interlocutory relief from Justice Annabelle Bennett "by the skin of your teeth".

Apple was also at pains to point out where Justice Bennett had provided "careful analysis" of the strength of each party's case, as lead barrister, Stephen Burley SC, had suggested during remarks.

A date for the final hearing is yet to be set but is expected to take place next year.

The two parties are engaged in simultaneous litigation in the Federal Court, where Samsung has alleged Apple infringed on its wireless communications patents in making and selling several version of the popular iPhone and iPad tablets.

That case is set to be heard in March next year.

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