APPLE has been dealt a blow as competitor Samsung has won the right to release its tablet computer in Australia.
After months of legal wrangling, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be launched just in time for the end of Christmas shopping.
The High Court yesterday dismissed Apple's application for special leave to appeal a Federal Court decision overturning a ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab.
The ban had been in place since mid-October, when Apple was granted an injunction preventing the sale of Samsung's tablet in Australia on the grounds that it infringed Apple's iPad2 touch-screen patent.
The courts had also heard that continuing the injunction against the Tab's sale would effectively kill the product as it would be superseded by newer technology.
Samsung said it was pleased the High Court had agreed with the Federal Court decision.
That decision "clearly affirmed our view that Apple's claims lack merit and that an injunction
should not have been imposed on the Galaxy Tab 10.1", the company said.
Apple refused to comment, reverting to a previous statement.
"It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging," Apple said.
"This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
The Galaxy Tab is likely to hit shops next week.
Apple had claimed Samsung's tablet copied its iPad, infringing patents in relation to touch screens and the gestures that control
But last week three judges in the Federal Court overturned the October injunction, saying the ban had the practical effect of "killing off" the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia.
In their findings, Federal Court judges Dowsett, Foster and Yates said Apple's infringement-claims hearing would be unlikely to take place before the middle of next year, and the technology had a shelf life of only 12 months.
Given the Galaxy Tab had been due to be launched in the middle of this year the judges found the injunction would seal the fate of the Samsung product.
Samsung has in turn sought an injunction to stop Apple from selling its newly released iPhone 4S in Australia, claiming it infringes on three patents relating to its wireless telecommunication standards.
The companies are also embroiled in legal disputes in the US, Europe, South Korea and Japan.