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Samsung sales halted in iPad battle
Apple claims South Korean company Samsung copied the design of its iPad
A US judge has ordered Samsung to halt sales of its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer while the court considers Apple's claim that the South Korean tech giant illegally copied the design of the popular iPad.
District Judge Lucy Koh said Apple's lawsuit appeared likely to prevail.
"Apple has established a strong case on the merits," Ms Koh said.
She had earlier said the two products are "virtually indistinguishable", but she declined in December to take the dramatic step of prohibiting sales of the Galaxy 10.1.
She changed her mind after the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit told Ms Koh to take another look at Apple's request for an injunction, ruling on June 19 that it appeared the California company had a strong case. The Washington DC court handles most patent appeals.
"Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products," Ms Koh wrote in her order. She said Apple would be "irreparably harmed" if sales of the Galaxy 10.1 continued.
Ms Koh ordered Apple to post a 2.6 million dollar (£1.6 million) bond in case it ultimately loses the case.
The ruling is part of a larger patent battle between the two tech giants, who are scheduled to go to trial next month in San Jose.
Apple filed its lawsuit last year, and the two companies are enmeshed in patent disputes around the globe revolving around smartphones and handheld computers. Samsung, with its Android-powered products, has emerged as one of Apple's chief rivals.
Apple also accuses the South Korean company of infringing patents related to the iPhone. Apple is seeking a similar injunction barring Samsung from selling one of its smartphones in the United States.