Apple has rejected an offer from Samsung to speed up a court hearing in Australia, continuing a patent war as it gets ready to launch its iPhone 5.

Samsung Electronics had offered to help speed up a court hearing in return for being able to launch its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia straight away, a deal analysts say would not appeal to Apple.

Sales of the Samsung tablet computer had been blocked in the country after a preliminary court hearing because of Apple's claims that Samsung has infringed three patents. Samsung has already agreed to withdraw two features from the Galaxy 10.1, leaving one patent still disputed.

Samsung and Apple have been engaged in a patent battle which has so far spanned 21 cases and nine countries. The technology companies are seeking to sue, counter-sue and get each other's products banned all over the world.

Samsung's Galaxy products have proved themost worthy rivals to the iPhone and iPad, with both vying to become the world's largest smarthphone maker, knocking Nokia off the top spot.

Analysts at Nomura forecast in June that Samsung could sell 86m smartphones in 2011, and said in September that growth had been even stronger than expected. Research from Digitimes, published last month, said that Apple would ship more than 86.4m units in 2011, and that Samsung would stay the world's third largest player, with 67m units.

The dispute looks set to continue even after Apple launches its IPhone 5, which is rumoured to be unveiled on Tuesday. Samsung has already been reported to be preparing an intellectual property dispute against the new device, though it is not yet clear where, and on what grounds.

But however ugly the dispute looks, analysts stress that the companies are inter-dependent -- with Samsung making chips for Apple -- and so it is likely to end peacefully. The obvious outcome would be a series of cross-licences, with each company paying royalties for some patents.

"Apple needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Apple," said Mark Newman, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford Bernstein, who believes a deal will be reached in the next 12 months or so.

Samsung could bring the dispute to a head if it were to refuse to take an order from Apple, whereas Apple would have to have set up alternative supply in order to cut off Samsung.

Even if Apple were to make chips for its new devices elsewhere, which appears unlikely, Apple would still need Samsung components for the existing smartphones.

While there were reports earlier in the year that Apple could be looking to transfer chip production to TSMC, analysts think that, at least for now, Samsung's order book looks safe. The older iPhones will become the cheaper models that Apple needs to target the fastest-growing area of the market: lower-end phones.

See also:
A new iPhone, a new Samsung lawsuit - FT Tilt
Full coverage of Samsung and Apple - FT Tilt
Full coverage of intellectual property - FT Tilt