* Rare win for Samsung vs Apple in global patent battle
* Australia Galaxy tablet sale ban to be lifted Friday
* Apple could appeal to High Court
* Decision pending on similar case in U.S.
By Amy Pyett and Narayanan Somasundaram
SYDNEY, Nov 30 Samsung Electronics Co is set to resume selling its Galaxy tablet computer
in Australia as early as Friday, after the South Korean
technology firm won a rare legal victory in a long-running
global patent war with Apple Inc .
An Australian federal court unanimously decided to lift a
preliminary injunction, imposed by a lower court, on sales of
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 -- but granted Apple a stay on
lifting the sales ban until Friday afternoon.
However, both companies are still waiting for a decision on
a similar request by Apple to block Galaxy sales in the crucial
U.S. market. That ruling from a federal judge in California
could come at any time, though it is unlikely the Australian
decision will factor into it.
"It's hard to expect the ruling to have a major positive
impact on Samsung's tablet business or legal cases in other
countries as Apple could appeal ... and sales won't be restored
anytime soon," said Song Myung-sub, an analyst at HI Investment
& Securities in Seoul.
"Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market as
Amazon.com appears to be the only viable threat at the
moment and other vendors, including Samsung, continue to
Lawyers for Apple declined to comment after the ruling.
However, the delay in lifting the temporary sales ban gives
Apple time to appeal.
Apple lawyers said in court that they plan to appeal the
The ruling is, however, a timely boost for Samsung ahead of
the busy pre-Christmas shopping season. While the Australian
market is not large, it is a key launch market for Apple
products outside the United States.
"Samsung's Christmas elves will be rushing to prepare
Galaxy Tab orders," said Tim Renowden, analyst at research firm
Ovum. "The well-regarded Galaxy Tab series provides some of the
leading alternatives to Apple's iPad."
Apple was granted an injunction against Samsung in October,
temporarily barring Australian sales of the Galaxy 10.1 tab,
which had been seen as the hottest competitor to Apple's iPad
until Amazon.com Inc launched its Kindle Fire.
Amazon said this week it saw a surge in sales of its tablet
devices on the crucial "Black Friday" shopping day after
Samsung is the world's top smartphone maker, but a distant
second to Apple in tablets. The intensifying legal battle has
undermined its efforts to close the gap.
Apple also filed a preliminary injunction request in
Germany on Monday to ban sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a
re-designed version of 10.1-inch Galaxy model, whose sales are
already banned in that market.
"We believe the (Australian) ruling clearly affirms that
Apple's legal claims lack merit," Samsung said in a statement,
adding it would soon make an announcement on the market
availability of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia.
Justice Lindsay Foster told the court he would grant a stay
on orders until Friday 4 p.m. (0500 GMT), noting Apple would
have to go to the High Court if it wanted this extended.
BATTLE IN 10 COUNTRIES
Apple and Samsung have been locked in an acrimonious battle
in 10 countries involving smartphones and tablets since April,
with the Australian dispute centering on touch-screen
technology used in Samsung's new tablet.
U.S. judges are usually hostile to considering precedents
from other countries in their decisions, said Timothy Holbrook,
an intellectual property professor at Emory Law.
"What happens in Australia will have no impact on what
happens in the U.S.," Holbrook said.
Apple successfully moved to block Samsung from selling its
tablets in Germany and a case in the Netherlands has forced
Samsung to modify some smartphone models.
The quarrel had triggered expectations that some of the
pair's $5 billion-plus relationship may be up for grabs.
Samsung counts Apple as its biggest customer and makes parts
central to Apple's mobile devices.
The legal battle in Australia doesn't stop at tablet
computers. Samsung has sought to block sales of Apple's latest
iPhone 4S, which went on sale early last month, by filing
preliminary sales injunction requests in four countries,
An Australian court has agreed to hear that case in March
and April, with sales allowed to continue as normal ahead of
the hearing on alleged patent infringements.
Shares in Samsung, valued at around $140 billion, were flat
in a Seoul market down 0.5 percent.