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.




User Comments: 24

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fteumer said:

Right back at Apple for going after Samsung. You shall reap what you have sewn.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

It looks more like they ripped off Apples design rather than the other way around. It doesn't really matter though, the Chinese has been stealing intellectual property rights for years.

Anyone watch Top Gear? Chinese car companies make cars to look like modern North America an European cars on the outside. But they ride like cars from the 1950's.

Lurker101 said:

The guest posters being as observant as ever, I see.

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.

Anyway, I'm actually glad this has happened. It's fun seeing Apple on the receiving end for once.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Wow. Need to pull manufacturing from China. It's getting crazy over there! If this is allowed to go through, it could happen to any company manufacturing things there.

Not good for Apple. Not good for anybody.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Haha in Apple's greedy face!!! It's what they get for literally being defeated by real innovation than suing Samsung to try to prevent it.

Lguest Lguest said:

I am glad that this has happened because the patent system and the copyright must change around the world, it is stupid the whole thing, the first one who introduce the paper in the patent get it or in China the first one who produce it get the patent. What about the inventor? Can anyone see him in the patent system? Well under the actual patent system the inventor doesn't exist and it doesn't matter. Is this really promoting invention and innovation? of course not!

I would like a world without patents and copyright which can really innovate fast, and the inventors can get their revenue from producing something rather than just write and drawing a couple of papers.

A world free from patents, DRM and copyright

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Goophone is troll.

p51d007 said:

Won't go anywhere, but, it sure will be fun to watch :-)

1 person liked this | psycros psycros said:

Won't go anywhere, but, it sure will be fun to watch :-)

Don't bet on it. The Chinese government aggressively defends domestic patents while essentially ignoring all others. China's tech economy is based almost entirely on stealing the work of superior foreign engineering. They have the most active corporate, industrial and military espionage program on the planet. Their army actually hosts classes that teach Chinese tech workers going abroad on how to steal intellectual property! I hope to God that if Romney gets elected he actually follows through on his promises to hold China accountable for their unfair trade practices, which must surely include IP infringement.

2 people like this | veLa veLa said:

I hope this hurts Apple

Euph0ria Euph0ria said:

Except for the fact that the Chinese "GooPhone i5" is probably made of 55% lead, and runs slower than molasses running uphill, if at all... I hope they get a bite out of Apple, or at least forced to swallow their own medicine.

I have mixed feelings though. I love the idea of Apple having to pay royalties for a frivolous and unfair lawsuit, but I don't like the idea of them having to pay out to China. I just hope it costs them a pretty penny (in legal costs and loss of revenue due to loss of time-to-market) to resolve the issue, rather than having to pay royalties.

Euph0ria Euph0ria said:

Won't go anywhere, but, it sure will be fun to watch :-)

Don't bet on it. The Chinese government aggressively defends domestic patents while essentially ignoring all others. China's tech economy is based almost entirely on stealing the work of superior foreign engineering. They have the most active corporate, industrial and military espionage program on the planet. Their army actually hosts classes that teach Chinese tech workers going abroad on how to steal intellectual property! I hope to God that if Romney gets elected he actually follows through on his promises to hold China accountable for their unfair trade practices, which must surely include IP infringement.

It's funny how much Apple and China seem to have in common...

dennis777 dennis777 said:

And God made the world in 7 days... the rest is made in China...boom!

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I am glad that this has happened because the patent system and the copyright must change around the world, it is stupid the whole thing, the first one who introduce the paper in the patent get it or in China the first one who produce it get the patent. What about the inventor? Can anyone see him in the patent system? Well under the actual patent system the inventor doesn't exist and it doesn't matter. Is this really promoting invention and innovation? of course not!

I would like a world without patents and copyright which can really innovate fast, and the inventors can get their revenue from producing something rather than just write and drawing a couple of papers.

A world free from patents, DRM and copyright

I surely hope Romney does not get through, America does not need ****** for Government right now even though its infested with them.

Good on China, but hopefully after this the Copyright laws change...

Jim$ter said:

Bought a quad from china...looks like a Yamaha..... But it rode a lot worse and fell apart in a few years. Nice try GooPhone...but as soon as they said China they should of just said case closed. China builds cheap crap...and that is what it is crap. I have never seen a quality China product at all.

DanUK DanUK said:

Epic troll!

I hope this works just if anything to kick apple in the nuts. We all know they deserve it..

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

What happens if the next iPhone looks nothing like this? I mean, these may have simply been prototype designs and materials, not the actual thing, this GooPhone is completely based on rumors which could turn out to be completely wrong, either way, I'm confused how an american company such as Apple, paying millions in rights to some small time china company is a good thing...

Camikazi said:

Bought a quad from china...looks like a Yamaha..... But it rode a lot worse and fell apart in a few years. Nice try GooPhone...but as soon as they said China they should of just said case closed. China builds cheap crap...and that is what it is crap. I have never seen a quality China product at all.

If they file the suit in China there is a very good chance of them winning since China tends to protect it's own companies whether they are right or not.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Lol.

That's funny

Tygerstrike said:

Apple deserves to have ppl steal their ideas. Apple has morphed into yet another giant multi billion dollar corporation that has its eyes on global dominence. All the cases Apple has filed, was a decision that was made by someone high up in Apple. Since Jobs isnt there anymore, I can only assume it is the new CEO. This means this person saw what Jobs was doing then "hulked out" and started doing it 10x more.

As for this ifake, I certainly hope it causes the i5 a deley in release. Maybe a few times of it happening to Apple will make them see the error of their ways. Well I can hope, but since the world is run on money and not morels, but Im pretty sure Apple will just sue yet again.

RedKipper007 RedKipper007 said:

Er, to be a clone does it not have to have copied an officially released item, design or patent and not just unconfirmed rumours?. With Apple not having released anything officially then this company is well entitled to patent and release the product unless Apple can prove that they stole something from official sources during the design process or have breached a valid patent, which Apple haven't done. So your title should read "Good luck to Apple trying to sell their GooPhone clone in China".

fimbles fimbles said:

It seems apple have innovated a great new way to put themselves on the firing line.

Well done apple, reap what you sow.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't know who's the bigger thief, out of the two listed.

I still think these patent battles are childish in nature. The idea behind having patents counters the idea behind not allowing a monopoly. Are we for monopoly or against it? We really should make up our minds.

Guest said:

1950s ride. that's what I thought before coming to China. I was wrong.

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