Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Tablet on way despite patent war

Samsung has confirmed its latest tablet computer will get a New Zealand launch as the company's patent war with Apple escalates.

Samsung New Zealand said a legal dispute in the Australian Federal Court involving the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has no impact on local sales.

"[Apple's] injunction application only relates to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Australian market. The undertaking given in Australia does not affect any Samsung tablet or smartphone available in New Zealand. Samsung expects to launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in New Zealand in the near future," the company said.

A spokesperson for Vodafone New Zealand - which plans to sell the device - said the retailer was still expecting the product to be launched mid-August and is waiting for stock to arrive in the country.

Samsung agreed to halt Australian sales of the tablet on Tuesday after Apple alleged in the court that its competitor's tablet infringes 10 Apple patents, including the "look and feel" and touchscreen technology of the iPad.

The patent battle heated up again yesterday as the International Trade Commission in the United States said it would investigate Apple's complaint that Samsung's products violate its technology intellectual property.

Apple and Samsung are waging an escalating legal battle in multiple countries, accusing each other of infringing on technology and design patents as competition in the red-hot mobile gadgets arena intensifies.

California-based Apple filed a complaint with the ITC on July 5 seeking to block its South Korean foe from importing a number of electronic devices.

That came less than a week after Samsung also sought to stop imports of Apple's popular iPads and iPhones.

Yesterday, the ITC said in a statement it voted to institute an investigation into Apple's claim and its request for a "cease and desist" order, spanning mobile handsets, tablets, software, touchpads and hardware interfaces.

The intensifying patent dispute threatens to strain a lucrative supply relationship: Apple in 2010 was Samsung's second-largest customer, accounting for US$5.7 billion ($6.6 billion) of sales tied mainly to semiconductors, according to the Asian consumer electronics company's annual report.

- Additional reporting: Agencies

- NZ Herald

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