According to Reuters yesterday Apple has agreed to drop patent infringement claims against the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. Despite its availability online in several places, including Amazon, Samsung represented to the court that it’s not “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States.”
On that basis Apple has withdrawn its complaint. Indeed, a search on the Samsung US website doesn’t shows only the Galaxy S3 in response to a search for “Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini.”
However the phone can be purchased on the US version of Amazon’s website as well as other places such as Newegg.com. Accordingly motivated consumers can get their hands on unlocked versions of the device — for as little as $359. However if you’re looking for an unlocked Android handset the LG-made Nexus 4 is both nicer and cheaper at $299.
Although Apple withdrew its claim against the Galaxy handset it reserved the right to refile a claim should Samsung formally put the device on sale in the US market. As a practical matter, however, it appears the S3 Mini is a less appealing version of the hugely successful S3, which will see limited sales and success accordingly.
Hopefully 2013 will see the end of most of the smartphone-related patent litigation among the major players. While Apple achieved a record patent infringement verdict against Samsung in the US in 2012 it has not been able to ban import of infringing products.
On balance Apple does not appear to have gained significantly from its aggressive global patent litigation strategy. And the protracted legal action has destroyed a once successful relationship between Apple and Samsung. It has also tarnished Apple’s image by implying that it would rather fight in court than compete in the marketplace.