The U.S. Department of Justice has issued the equivalent of an eye roll when it comes to the ongoing, six-year patent infringement battle between Apple and Samsung.
Yet the news comes as Samsung stands to reap billions from Apple iPhone X sales.
The DOJ has recommended that the Supreme Court deny Samsung's request for a writ of certiorari—i.e., a fresh review of one aspect of the case.
The battle between the two consumer electronics giants has been nothing short of epic, dragging on since 2011. At the heart of the kerfluffle is Apple’s assertion that Samsung infringed on its smartphone designs, including “a rectangular front face with rounded edges and a grid of colorful icons on a black screen.”
Last year, Apple was awarded $399 million in damages in Federal Circuit court—representing Samsung’s entire profit from the sale of its allegedly infringing smartphones. However, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed that decision (PDF), sending the case back to a lower court to make a new determination on lesser damages. The situation remains unresolved; a federal appeals court is set to determine this month whether a new jury trial is necessary.
Meanwhile, Samsung has asked the Supreme Court to review a separate-but-related verdict that awarded Apple $120 million for patent infringement—predictably Apple filed a response arguing that the High Court needn’t waste its time. The DoJ has now backed that assessment.
"In the view of the United States, the petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied," the agency succinctly said.
Ironically, as an iPhone parts-maker, Samsung’s fortunes are intimately tied to its adversary. According to an analysis conducted by Counterpoint Technology Market Research for The Wall Street Journal, the Korean behemoth is likely to earn about $4 billion more from the iPhone X than from the parts it supplies to its own Galaxy S8 in the 20 months after iPhone X's release on Nov 3. That study estimated that iPhone X will sell 130 million units in the first 20 months, 80 million more than the Galaxy S8.
Also of note: Apple is not lacking in legal drama of late. As the Samsung situation drags on, the Cupertino giant faces another legal squabble with chipmaker Qualcomm over iPhone components.