Chinese company patents iPhone 5 design, may sue Apple

By on September 5, 2012, 5:00 PM

Tired of hearing about seemingly endless patent wars being waged between multi-national companies? Me too. However, this one has an interesting twist. Giz-China is reporting that Apple's iPhone 5 may be in danger of an injunction barring sales in China because another company, GooPhone, has already patented its design. That's right: GooPhone said it will aggressively defend its intellectual property, even if it may seem somewhat ill-gotten.

To make sense of this wackiness, you need to see the GooPhone i5 -- that's the smartphone responsible for the commotion. This iPhone-imitator was patented and released before the iPhone 5 was announced, giving GooPhone a possible legal advantage over Apple.

Although the smartphone runs Android 4.1 and the internals are almost certainly different, the i5's appearance is ostensibly a blatant clone of leaked designs purported to be the iPhone 5. The device sports a larger screen than the 4S (4-inch) while also featuring a smaller dock connector and relocated headphone jack -- physical details which are believed to be part of Apple's iPhone makeover.

Fortunately for Apple, the consequences stemming from GooPhone's patent claims are limited to Chinese borders. However, if the patent holds up to government scrutiny -- and that's a big if -- it could mean sales of the real iPhone 5 may be blocked. To add insult to injury, GooPhone may even demand Apple pay royalties to sell their next iPhone in China. 

No one can say for sure if GooPhone really has a case or not, but the results of Apple's "iPad" trademark dealings with Chinese display manufacturer Proview aren't exactly encouraging. Of course, what the iPhone 5 truly looks like is still a public mystery and will likely remain so until September 12.

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