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Samsung halts tablet sales in Australia

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Apple and Samsung’s increasingly-broad patent dispute has taken another turn today, as Samsung has reportedly agreed to stop selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in Australia until the companies’ patent disputes are resolved—or it gets court approval. According to  Bloomberg, the sales limitation applies to the U.S. version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1; the company plans to release a version specifically for Australia, and has agreed to provide three samples of that device to Apple a week before it goes into distribution.

Samsung has been advertising the imminent availability of the Galaxy Tab 10.0 in Australia since at least July 20. If Apple loses its patent infringement claims against Samsung, it will have to pay Samsung damages for the loss of Australian sales.

The agreement is just the latest round in a patent battle between Apple and Samsung that got started earlier this year when Apple sued Samsung for essentially copying its iPhone and iPad products, as well as infringing on several patents. (Apple claims the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on at least 10 Apple patents.) The dispute has quickly spread to international jurisdictions, with cases and counter-claims being filed in the U.S>, Germany, Japan, and Samsung’s native South Korea.

Samsung was the first company to seek import bans, filing complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to ban imports of iPhones and iPads into the United States; Apple has responded with complaints seeking to bar imports of Samsung products into various international markets. Industry watchers expect the dispute to extend beyond Australia.

The suits are not without irony, because Apple is one of Samsung’s biggest customers, purchasing enormous amounts of flash memory and other components from Samsung, and Samsung currently manufacturers the A5 processor used in the current iPad model. Recent reports have had Apple conducting trials with Taiwan’s TMSC as a potential new CPU manufacturer.

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