Apple's iPad (left) and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet

Apple blocks Samsung Galaxy tablet being sold in EU

Apple has blocked Samsung selling its new Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union as part of an ongoing patent dispute.

A German court has temporarily barred Samsung from selling its tablet in the EU, except the Netherlands. The court order comes a week after Samsung was forced to delay the Australian launch of its latest Galaxy tablet because of a similar lawsuit.

Apple has said Samsung’s Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad. It has sued in the United States, Australia and elsewhere. Samsung, whose tablets are based on Google’s Android software, has countersued Apple.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet confirmed that a district court in the German city of Dusseldorf granted the preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It was not immediately clear why the order did not include the Netherlands. Samsung said it would challenge the court decision.

“The request for an injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung,” Samsung said.

Samsung’s mobile unit, which includes handsets and tablet PCs, generated 30 per cent of the technology giant’s revenue in the second quarter. The bulk of the rest comes from memory chips and televisions, sectors where Samsung is the global leader.

Samsung has been locked in a battle with Apple over smartphone and tablet patents since April. The Galaxy gadgets are seen as among the biggest challengers to Apple’s mobile devices, which have achieved runaway success.

Apple sold 14 million iPads in the first half of this year worldwide, compared with analysts’ sales estimates of about 7.5 million units for the Galaxy Tab over 2011.

Industry executives said Samsung could launch a new variation of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to get it on sale in Europe, as it plans to do in Australia, or settle the dispute by paying royalties to Apple.

“This will be an issue that will get settled between the two companies. Some deal will likely get made and then they will move on,” said Peter Elston, Singapore-based Asia strategist at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia, which owns Samsung shares.

In Australia, Samsung has agreed to show Apple an Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 one week before its launch there, a Samsung spokesman said.

Elston said Samsung’s strength came from memory chips. “They are way ahead of anybody else in that market and that is where they generate their super-normal profits,” he said.

Apple is one participant in a web of litigation among phone makers and software firms over who owns patents used in smartphones, as rivals aggressively rush into the smartphone and tablet market.

Complicating things for the two tech giants is the pair’s $5 billion-plus commercial relationship, which some analysts think might be at risk. Samsung, for instance, counts Apple as its biggest customer, making chips and other parts central to Apple’s mobile devices.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 was only recently launched in Europe and is in the early stages of being rolled out. For now, the iPad is the market leader. Samsung launched its latest tablet in the United States in June.

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