Samsung secures early final hearing for March 2012

Apple pushes for August 2012 hearing, but is denied

Samsung has experienced minor victory today as a Federal Court granted an application for an early final hearing in its case against Apple, with a three-week case being set for March 2012 and a specific date to be fixed this Friday.

The South Korean manufacturer is suing Apple over the infringement of three wireless patents it claims Apple has used in its iPhone 4S. Samsung has sought an interlocutory injunction to halt the sale of the handset in Australia and Japan until the wider patent case can be resolved.

The case was spurred by Apple’s legal action earlier this year in which it sued Samsung over its Galaxy 10.1 tablet which the former claims infringes on a number of patents of Apple’s iPad.

Apple won an interlocutory injunction to have the sale of the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet banned in Australia until the case can be resolved.

The grant was awarded by presiding judge, Justice Annabelle Bennett, following the request from Samsung lawyer, Neil Young, for the early final hearing to be brought forward to March, or at the latest April.

The application met strong opposition from Apple’s lawyer, Stephen Burley, who was adamant that while setting an early final hearing in March would be enough time to prepare a case for the licensing issues, it would be enough time to prepare for the case around the patent infringement.

Burley’s request for an early final hearing in August was not accepted by Justice Bennett on the grounds that the iPhone 4S may by that time be superseded by a newer model based on the timeline of previous iPhone releases.

“By August the 4S may be superseded for all I know,” Justice Bennet said. “I can see that there is a degree of commercial urgency for Samsung.”

According to Young, even with an early final hearing in March Samsung will be suffering significant irreparable damage not only from the sale of the phone itself but also with the prolonged effects of application sales and the like.

After a short break requested by Apple to seek directions on whether early final hearing dates in March would be acceptable, the company agreed based on the flexibility around the availability of overseas witnesses.

Earlier this month Samsung’s bid for the full versions of Apple’s carrier agreements with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone were unsuccessful.

Samsung initially sought the documents in an effort to obtain evidence that Apple benefited from greater subsidies for the iPhone than handsets from rival manufacturers. Both vendors were then granted the right to privately negotiate a redacted version of the documents to provide information about whether the sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S had impacted on those of the Samsung Galaxy.

However, Samsung expressed dissatisfaction with the response it had from Apple around the agreements and did not trust the information was not located in the full versions of the documents.

When Justice Bennett confirmed she was confident Apple was accurate in claiming the information sought was not in the documents, Samsung was forced to back down from the demand.

The case will continue on 18 November.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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