(AAPL) Apple Wins Injunction in Australia

Apple Inc.(AAPL) has won another injunction against Samsung Electronics Co., which will delay the launch of the latter’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 until the end of September, in Australia.

Samsung had originally scheduled the launch of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia in the middle of September.

Last month, Apple had sued Samsung in the Sydney Federal Court, accusing Samsung to have violated patent rights and alleged that the latter’s Galaxy 10.1 tab copied the iPad tablet in some respects. However, Samsung had argued that the Australian model of Galaxy 10.1 was different from its US models. Regardless, the court agreed on Apple’s request for the injunction and a hearing is scheduled on September 26 and September 29, 2011.

Apart from Australia, the two companies have locked horns in patent infringement cases in Germany, South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Recently, Apple had won an injunction against Samsung Electronics Co., as a German court barred the latter from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 touchscreen tablets in the European Union. A German judge on Aug. 25 noted that Apple’s intellectual rights are probably strong enough to ban the sales of the 10.1 tablet in that country.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 was released earlier this summer and is touted to be one of Apple’s strongest competitors in the tablet market. The tablet uses Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android operating system. This compelled Apple to file the lawsuit in a bid to protect its intellectual property and claimed that Samsung copied the iPad tablet in some respects.

Earlier in April 2011, Apple had filed lawsuits in the California court against Samsung, claiming infringement of seven patents related to the Galaxy devices’ mechanism of interpreting user gestures, including selecting, scrolling, pinching and zooming. Apple also accused Samsung of copying three design patents, including the flat black face of the iPhone and iPad. The suit also covers the Epic 4G and the Nexus S products from Samsung.

Apple is facing tremendous competition in the tablet and smartphone markets from a number of companies, including Samsung, Motorola, HTC and LG. Android, being an open source operating system, has helped Apple’s competitors create varied devices based on the free source code.

Apple’s primary smartphone and tablet markets are very crowded, with the likes of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), Dell Inc. (DELL), Samsung, Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), Toshiba and Acer gaining popularity in several international markets. However, Apple remains the leader by far in the tablet market to date and enjoys a very strong position in smartphones as well.

Of course, impending lawsuits against several companies will remain an overhang on the stock going forward as the outcome remains uncertain. However, positives can be derived from the various lawsuits that it has won in the recent past.

Apple’s ability to spur the popularity of the products in developing nations, where it is less successful, will help dictate the company’s fortunes in future.

We maintain our Neutral rating over the long term (6-12 months). Currently, Apple has a Zacks #1 Rank, which implies a Strong Buy rating in the near term.

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