WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics scored a partial victory against arch-foe Apple Inc on Friday after a U.S. appeals court lifted a freeze on sales of its Galaxy Nexus smartphones but upheld a lower court's decision to temporarily halt sales of its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer.
Apple accused its Asian rival, the leader in global mobile device sales, in lawsuits of blatantly copying its hot-selling iPhones and iPads.
Last week, a San Jose court granted rare, temporary injunctions against the sale of the Galaxy mobile devices in question, a triumph for the Silicon Valley consumer electronics giant that had asked for the bans until their trial begins July 30.
Apple has waged an international patent war since 2010 as it seeks to limit the growth of Google's Android system, the world's most-used mobile operating platform. Opponents of Apple say it is using patents too aggressively in a bid to stamp out competition.
Apple and Samsung Electronics, the world's largest consumer electronics companies, are waging legal battles in about 10 countries, accusing each other of patent infringement as they vie for supremacy in a fast-growing market for mobile devices.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said it would temporarily stay the smartphone injunction while it considers Apple's arguments, the court said in a brief order. It gave Apple a July 12 deadline to respond.
The decisions are the latest in a long-running battle between Samsung and Apple in U.S. courts but are unlikely to severely depress the Asian tech-power's bottom line since it is rolling out new tablet and smartphone models. On Friday, Samsung announced that soaring sales of its smartphones helped drive a record $5.9 billion quarterly profit.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected Samsung's request to lift her June 26 order to halt sales of the tablet, which runs on Google Inc's Android operating system and goes toe-to-toe with the iPad.
Koh also slapped a pre-trial ban on sales of Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone a week ago.
Apple sued Samsung last year, accusing the South Korean electronics maker of "slavishly" copying the iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies the claim and countersued.
Samsung's Galaxy touchscreen tablets are considered by many industry experts to be the main rival to the iPad, though they are currently a distant second to Apple's devices.
Apple sold 13.6 million iPads from January through March to control 63 percent of the global tablet market, according to research from Display Search. Samsung sold 1.6 million tablets, giving it 7.5 percent of the market.
The Galaxy case is U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846. The Nexus case is in the same court and is No. 2012-0630.
The Galaxy case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is No. 12-1506. The Nexus appeal is No 2012-1507.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Lisa Shumaker