Tablet talk: Google’s anticipated unveiling, plus Apple victory over Samsung

As Google prepares to unveil its first branded tablet at its I/O developers conference this morning — either a competitor to the iPad, or more likely to the Kindle Fire, we’ll know soon enough — a judge has blocked U.S. sales of another Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

It’s a big win for Apple — the first injunction it has been granted against Samsung in the U.S. — in its epic patent battle with the No. 1 maker of Android smartphones and tablets, although analysts told the Wall Street Journal it would probably have little effect on the two companies’ many court battles in up to 10 countries around the world. As Howard Mintz of the Mercury News reports, the federal judge in San Jose who granted the injunction late Tuesday had once denied Apple’s request for one, but a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., sent it back to her for reconsideration. Judge Lucy Koh wrote in Tuesday’s decision: “Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products. As a patent holder, Apple has a valid right to exclude others from practicing Apple’s invention.” Samsung said Tuesday night it would seek to put the order on hold. Koh is also expected to rule soon on a similar Apple request for an injunction against a line of Samsung smartphones.

Apple’s victory is in contrast to a decision last week by a federal judge in Chicago who denied injunctions sought by Apple and Google-owned Motorola Mobility against each other’s products. (See Apple-Google case tossed, but what does it all mean?) The ruling came after Judge Richard Posner had canceled a trial that was set to begin earlier this month, and was seen as a blow for  Apple.

But back to the expected Google tablet, which an executive for partner manufacturer Asustek says will be priced to compete with the’s Kindle Fire, according to Reuters. That’s in line with previous reports that the Google Nexus 7 tablet will cost $199 and $249 and have a 7-inch screen — a size that keeps it from directly competing with the bigger iPad because it discourages developers from working on tablet-optimized apps, some say. Still, an analyst quoted by the BBC says the smaller screen, lower price and “more impressive features” would help differentiate the Nexus tablet from Apple’s market-dominating iPad. For more details about the tablet and other developments from Google I/O, check for updates from the Mercury News’ Brandon Bailey, who’s at Moscone Center in San Francisco today.



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