Judge says sales figures key to Apple’s case against Samsung

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If Apple wants to bar Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet sales in Australia, it might have to produce numbers that show such an action is necessary, said Sydney Federal Court judge Annabelle Bennett on Monday. The judge wouldn’t force Apple to put its sales numbers on the table, as Samsung has requested, but she did suggest that Apple’s claim will be made weaker without the information.

Bennett’s exact words, according to Bloomberg, were that “[u]nless Apple puts on evidence showing the impact in the U.S. or U.K., I can’t draw any positive assumptions.” There’s little that is ambiguous about that statement, and it puts Apple in a bit of an awkward position. Samsung is looking for the full disclosure of sales info, and Apple has been trying to prevent the South Korean company from dragging that info out.

That’s because, if numbers remain in line with those we’ve seen publicly released from Apple during its quarterly earnings reports, iPads are likely still selling as fast as Apple can make them. Such strong sales in the U.S. and U.K. would seem to contradict the accusation that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will have a negative impact on Apple’s iPad sales in markets where both tablets are available.

Apple argues that the “remarkable similarity of the Samsung product” will mean that it automatically takes sales away from Apple, even if the numbers don’t necessarily make that obvious. Apple has a point, too: Just because the company is currently having a hard time keeping the iPad on shelves doesn’t mean for certain that every potential iPad customer is ending up with an Apple tablet. Faced with a very similar alternatives, consumers shopping for iPads might opt for the Samsung alternative if stock isn’t available or a sales person pushes the Tab.

The Australian court will hold a hearing later this month to decide on the preliminary injunction, which, if granted, will apply until the patent suit between the two companies is resolved. Samsung has so far agreed to delay the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia pending a formal decision from the court on the injunction requested by Apple. Its good faith cooperation, along with the judge’s position with regards to the release of sales data might help the Korean company achieve a favorable result.

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