Apple vs Samsung kicks off in Australia

Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co began the latest round of their long-running global patent war on Monday as an Australian judge began hearing evidence for an anticipated three-month trial.

While any decision in the Australian case is unlikely to have a substantial impact in other jurisdictions like Europe or the United States where the technology giants are suing each other, lawyers say the trial proceedings could reshape the legal strategies employed by Apple and Samsung in other countries.

Mark Summerfield, a patent lawyer and senior associate with Melbourne-based law firm Watermark, said “there’s no doubt there’s a strategic and psychological effect” attached to the Australian case. “Courts in other countries will watch what is happening here,” he said.

Apple and Samsung representatives declined to comment on Monday at the hearing.

Apple and Samsung have been fighting across 10 countries since April 2011 over patents covering smartphones and tablets, with the Australian dispute centering on touch-screen technology used in Samsung’s new Galaxy 10.1 tablet.

The quarrel has triggered expectations that some of the pair’s $5 billion-plus relationship may be up for grabs. Samsung counts Apple as its biggest customer and makes parts central to Apple’s mobile devices.

Summerfield said unless the two companies come to a global settlement, the Australian case is likely to run until well into 2014 as an appeal to any ruling at the end of the current trial “is a 100 percent certainty.”

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Apple vs Samsung kicks off in Australia