Samsung's Galaxy Tab is the hottest competitor to Apple's iPad [Reuters]

A court has temporarily banned Samsung from selling its new Galaxy tablet computer in Australia, a setback for the South Korean electronics giant in a global patent battle with Apple Inc. that accuses it of copying the iPad and iPhone.

The decision of Annabelle Bennett, the federal court justice, prevents Samsung Electronics Co. from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia in its current form until a further court order, or until a pending patent lawsuit between the warring technology giants is resolved.

Thursday's ruling is a blow for Samsung, which had hoped to launch the new product in time for Christmas sales.

It comes after courts in other countries including Germany and the Netherlands made judgments that upheld Apple's claims that its intellectual property had been appropriated by Samsung.

Apple had filed the Australian lawsuit in July, accusing Samsung of copying its touch screen technology.

The patent battle spanning 10 countries has underlined the perception of Samsung as an efficient imitator among technology companies rather than a pace setter.

Over the years, the company has grown to become the global number one in TVs and number two in smartphones by sales. However unlike it's rival Apple Inc., it has not been seen as lacking in originality and innovation.

'Apple's dominance'

Since Galaxy is the hottest competitor to Apple's iPad, which dominates global tablet sales, "the ruling could further extend Apple's dominance in the tablet market as it widens a sales ban of Samsung's latest product", Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities in Seoul, said.

In her ruling, Bennett said she was granting the temporary injunction in part because she felt Apple had a sufficient likelihood of winning the trial against Samsung.

The judge's full orders will not be published until Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether Samsung can  sell a variation of the device that removed the features Apple objected to in the Australian lawsuit.

"We are disappointed with this ruling and Samsung will be seeking legal advice on its options," Samsung said in a statement.

“Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple's claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers."

Samsung, which filed its Australian countersuit in September, said it remained confident it could prove Apple violated its wireless technology patents.

“We will continue to legally assert our intellectual property rights against those who violate Samsung's patents and free ride on our technology," the company said in a statement.

An attorney for Apple declined to comment after the hearing.

Samsung shares fell 0.9 per cent to 890,000 won in Seoul.

Source: Agencies