Apple withdraws patent claim against Galaxy S III Mini in the U.S.

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini (three up, front, back, profile)

Faced with a potential $15 billion fine by The European Commission over its misuse of standards-essential patents in litigation with Apple, Samsung earlier this month dropped its bid to ban Apple devices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Seemingly mirroring Samsung’s move, Apple has now agreed to withdraw its patent infringement claims against a new Samsung phone it added to its U.S. suit on Black Friday, Reuters reports…

It’s not what you think.

According to Reuters, Apple realized that the new Galaxy S III Mini wasn’t going to be sold in the U.S. market at all.

Apple Inc has agreed to withdraw patent claims against a new Samsung phone with a high-end display after Samsung said it was not offering to sell the product in the crucial U.S. market.

In response to Apple’s bid to add the Galaxy S III mini and five other phones to its U.S. suit, Samsung said the Mini was not available for sale in the United States and should not be included in the case.

The news gathering organization explains that the patents Apple is asserting against the Mini are separate from those that went to trial in August, securing the iPhone maker a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung.

Samsung launched the Galaxy S III Mini mid-October in Europe in response to the iPhone 5. The Jelly Bean-driven smartphone with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface inherits much of the Galaxy S III’s software and hardware features, only in the more compact four-inch form factor.

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini (profile, angled)

Lawyers for Apple wrote in the filing they were able to “purchase multiple units of the Mini from Inc’s U.S. retail site and have them delivered in the United States”.

The Galaxy maker responded that it is not “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States”.

Therefore, Apple basically had no other choice but to agree to withdraw claims on the Mini “so long as the current withdrawal will not prejudice Apple’s ability later to accuse the Galaxy S III Mini if the factual circumstances change”.

Is it just me or could this move be interpreted as a gesture of goodwill on Apple’s part?