Apple flexes Android patent muscle in Australia

Samsung won't sell its Android-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 there

Apple has notched a win on its belt by getting Samsung to agree to not sell its Android-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia until the companies resolve a patent dispute.

ANALYSIS: Apple could be next to ride Android patent gravy train

The agreement, first reported by Bloomberg, relates to a patent dispute between the two companies spanning multiple countries where Apple has accused Samsung of copying the hardware and software used by both the iPhone and the iPad for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung put out a statement claiming that Apple had filed a complaint with the Federal Court of Australia over a "Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 variant that Samsung Electronics had no plans of selling in Australia" and that Samsung would have some version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the Australian market "in the near future."

But as software patent expert Florian Mueller notes on his blog, Samsung's statement is noncommittal and leaves a lot of wiggle room for interpreting just when and how Samsung will release the tablet in Australia. Furthermore, he says that Samsung didn't at all try to explain how the Australian version of the tablet would be free of patent infringements without significantly altering the product.

"The statement does not explain why the Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would not infringe the asserted patents," he writes. "The Australian version of the product may have a slightly different design in some superficial regards, but there's absolutely no reasonable basis for any assumption that the Australian version would not come with essentially the same multi-touch user interface... Theoretically, Samsung could indeed build an Australian Galaxy Tab 10.1 that would not infringe those patents, but in order to work around those patents, it would at least suffer serious degradations of the user experience, potentially even the removal of all multi-touch functionality."

The dispute between Apple and Samsung is one of many that the company has engaged in with developers of Android-based devices. The most recent development in this saga came last week when a judge at the International Trade Commission ruled that HTC's Android-based smartphones had key features that infringed upon two Apple patents. If the ruling is made final later this year, it means that HTC could be barred from importing its Android phones into the U.S. Microsoft has also successfully sued some Android manufacturers such as HTC and is generating an estimated $5 in extra revenue every time HTC ships an Android-based device, according to a report by Citi analyst Walter Pritchard.

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