Apple vs Samsung

Samsung wins most important round yet in battle with Apple - it can sell Galaxy devices in U.S.

Samsung has won the most important round yet in its global legal battle with Apple - after the Californian company's bid to halt U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy products was rejected.

The companies are embroiled in bitter patent disputes in 10 countries - but none is more important than the U.S., Samsung's biggest market.

The victory comes in the wake of an Australian court's ruling that Samsung was free to sell its Galaxy tablets in that territory.

Shares in Samsung Electronics Co rose more than 2 percent.

Samsung surpassed Apple as the world's top smartphone maker in the third quarter and a ruling to temporarily halt U.S. sales of Galaxy smartphones could have negatively affected its growth momentum just as Apple released the iPhone 4S in early October.

'We believe the legal uncertainties between Samsung and Apple are waning, or put in another way, the situation is turning positive for Samsung,' said Nomura analyst CW Chung.

Morgan Stanley analysts said the ruling removed the worst-case scenario for Samsung's operating profit of a hit of as much as $1.5 billion and was 'clearly a major and favourable event' for the company.

The battle has only intensified as sales of Samsung's cult Galaxy handsets have bitten into Apple's market share.

Samsung is now the biggest smartphone company on Earth, by revenue and by volume, beating both Nokia and Apple.

Android phones now account for 52.5 per cent of the smartphone market - and Apple's just 16.6.

But its Galaxy Tab isn't going to have an easy ride, even if it DOES go on sale - both Galaxy and iPad 2 are now being aggressively undercut by Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet, which is roughly half the price of either.

Fire has remained Amazon's best-selling item for eight weeks running.

At least one major American retailer said it outsold iPad 2 on Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza seen as 'kicking off' the shopping season in America.

'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 appears to be the only viable threat at the moment and other vendors, including Samsung, continue to struggle.'

Apple's move to win a stay preventing Apple selling the devices may allow it to lodge an appeal.

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.

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 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 Thanksgiving.

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.

Copyright experts have been aghast at some of the issues raised - claiming that some of the legal measures used by the companies could result in bans of other devices, or even whole classes of technology.

(Published by Daily Mail - December 5, 2011)

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