Two of the world's largest contenders in the consumer electronics arena, Apple and Samsung, have kept audiences all over the globe hanging on every detail in their legal battle over the infringement of a number of patents. The court case is far from over but has continued to occupy the news agenda this year, qualifying it as one of top ten stories for 2011.
The battle began when Apple filed a lawsuit against the Korean manufacturer in the US earlier this year, accusing the latter of blatantly copying the iPad and iPod with its Samsung Galaxy phones and 10.1 tablet. Apple claimed the Galaxy devices infringed on a number of patents relating the touchscreen and heuristics.
The case soon hit Australian shores when Apple sought an injunction to prevent Samsung selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, which was finally granted in October.
When handing down the judgment in the NSW Federal Court, presiding judge, Justice Annabelle Bennett, said she had weighed up the balance of convenience for both parties and had come to the conclusion that both sides would suffer significant damage either way. Despite this, Bennett J, said in the end the balance of convenience had weighed in Apple's favour.
Hot on the heels of Apple's win with the Galaxy 10.1 ban, Samsung hastily retaliated, launching a lawsuit against Apple in a number of countries in an effort to secure an injunction against the US company selling its latest smartphone, the iPhone 4S, on the basis that it infringed a number of Samsung's patents in its Galaxy smartphone.
The process saw much tit for tat between the two, with Samsung at one stage demanding access to the full versions of Apple's carrier agreements with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus, despite earlier negotiations for a redacted version of the documents.
Samsung sought copies of the contracts in an effort to obtain evidence that Apple benefited from greater subsidies for the iPhone than handsets from rival manufacturers.
However, Samsung backed down from its demands after Apple's legal counsel successfully persuaded Justice Bennett that the information sought was not in the documents. This case remains ongoing in 2012.
In the meantime, Samsung's launched an appeal against the injunction handed down in October preventing the sale of the Galaxy 10.1 Tab in Australia. The case was heard by the full bench of the NSW Federal Court, comprising Justice Foster, Justice Dowsett and Justice Yates in November.
The full day hearing saw a minor win for Samsung with the full bench overturning the tablet ban, originally put in place by Justice Bennett on 30 October in a unanimous decision.
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