Apple's effort to stop South Korea's Samsung from launching its newest iPhone challenger in the US has been derailed by complex maneuvering in the patent war between the companies.
Apple backed off a last-minute request to block the Galaxy S III model's US release after US District Court Judge Lucy Koh warned that it would force a postponement of a June 21 hearing in the patent infringement case.
"If Apple seeks to file a motion to enjoin sales of the Samsung Galaxy S III, Apple will have to request a new hearing date from the court," Koh said in written ruling issued late Monday.
The judge said that if Apple wanted to seek a temporary restraining order to block US sales of the Galaxy S III before June 21, she would have to postpone the hearing because of "the court's limited resources."
That means the court would be unlikely to act to block sales in the US of the new phone, which could be launched as soon as next week.
Koh has gone on record in court reminding rival legal teams that she has other cases on her docket aside from the patent feud and does not want to become an "Apple vs. Samsung judge."
The two technology giants are battling for supremacy in the lucrative smartphone and tablet market. They have launched dozens of legal actions alleging patent infringements against each other in 10 countries.
Samsung last week vowed to press ahead with the US launch of its newest smartphone, which it said will take place "later this month."
Two days of court-directed peace talks between the chiefs of the two firms ended in San Francisco last month with no sign of a truce.
The Galaxy S III has so far been launched in more than two dozen countries, mainly in Europe and the Middle East. It will be available in 145 nations by July.
The third version of the Galaxy S series offers face-recognition technology and improved voice-activated controls as well as a more powerful processor that lets users watch video and write emails simultaneously.
It can detect eye movements and override the phone's automatic shutdown if the user is looking at the screen.
Samsung shipped 44.5 million smartphones in the first quarter, exceeding the 35.1 million by Apple, market researcher Strategy Analytics said in April.
It said the Korean firm also overtook Nokia as the biggest maker of all types of mobile phone in the same period.