A newly spotted patent filed by Samsung with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) under application number '1020180096240' suggests the company has been trying to patent a cooling system comparable those found in many handsets for months. While a request for examination was made by Samsung as recently as August 17 – just after the Galaxy Note 9 was announced – it has actually been on file with the agency since November of 2016. There is at least one big difference between the design described by the listing and the one ultimately used in Samsung's flagship devices, which it has indicated to have been in use since the Galaxy S7 series. Namely, that's the use of a carbon-fiber in the two thermal interface materials (TIMs) surrounding the copper cooling component. No carbon substrate or material is mentioned at all in the patent listing. However, setting that aside, everything appears to effectively be the same.
With that said, the patent does describe the use of a copper cooling element embedded within two liquid-infused TIMs. What's more, the associated images and further descriptions even appear to place the heat sink in the same position as is seen in teardowns of devices such as the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, and Galaxy Note 9. The cooling system in the latter of those was 2.7-times the size, allowing for even better heat spreading and dissipation away from components. However, it's positioning between components, shape, and most materials used appear to be exactly the same.
In the meantime, a note at the bottom of the patent filing states that an update on the document itself is pending and will be published in November. All of that tentatively seems to point to an error on Samsung's part, given the age of the patent and similarities to what has been in many of its smartphones. The company may have simply neglected to fully explain the technology in the original patent excluding the use of carbon materials that improve how heat in its devices is transferred and directed away from key components. More to the point, that may explain why the patent has taken well over a year to be reviewed and finalized by KIPO.