|Samsung and Apple are locked in several patent disputes over their tablet computers and phones [AFP]
Electronics manufacturer Samsung has won a legal victory over its competitor Apple after an Australian court lifted a ban on the South Korean company's tablet computers.
Samsung's Galaxy tablet 10.1, considered the closest rival to Apple's iPad, has been kept out of the Australian market since late July after Apple took Samsung to court, accusing the company of copying its iPad and iPhone.
The ban was lifted on Friday and the device will now be available across the country in time for Christmas.
The move comes a day after a court in Paris rejected Samsung's bid to block sales of Apple's iPhone 4S in France, and a week after a US court denied Apple's plea to ban Galaxy phones and tablets in the country.
Apple and Samsung have been involved in nearly 30 cases of patent infringement in 10 countries since April as they compete for the top spot in the booming smartphone and tablet markets.
Pitched legal battles
Apple first sued Samsung in the US in April, saying the firm's smartphones and tablets copied its products.
In response, Samsung sued Apple for infringing on its telecommunications technology. It later expanded the suit to include Apple's iPhone 4S, released in October.
Samsung filed pleas to stop the sales of the iPhone 4S in Japan, France, Italy and Australia in October.
But sales of the iPhone 4S were allowed to continue in Australia.
"If the Italian bid [by Samsung] also fails, the time may come for both Apple and Samsung to realise that you can't win a
marathon with a sprint," intellectual property expert Florian Mueller said.
"The problem with those 'sprints' - in terms of requests for preliminary injunctions that courts can grant after a fast-track proceeding - is that when they fail, they do nothing to enhance the credibility of the respective plaintiff."
The Australian market, while not huge, is the first launch market for Apple products outside the US.
Samsung is the world's top smartphone maker, but a distant second to Apple in tablets.
While the two companies are locked in various disputes, they continue to have business ties.
Samsung makes parts central to Apple's mobile devices. But the legal struggles have triggered expectations that some portion of the pair's $5bn-plus relationship may be up for grabs.
Global tablet sales are expected to reach more than 50 million in 2011.
Apple, which has sold more than 30 million iPads so far, is expected to continue to dominate the market in the near term.