The Goophone I5 takes the upcoming iPhone’s purported new look to the Android platform. Image: Goophone
A Chinese iPhone lookalike manufacturer has reportedly patented the next iPhone’s design before Apple has even released the handset.
The Goophone I5, which was unveiled in late August, appears to be an exact ripoff of leaked images and parts for Apple’s next iPhone. Blog Gizchina reports that Goophone has already patented the design of the I5 and could potentially sue or try to block Apple from selling its handset in China.
The only external difference in design between the GooPhone I5 and what we expect the iPhone 5 to look like is the former’s 3.5-inch display, as opposed to the 4-inch display most observers expect on Apple’s new handset.
“It would be unfortunate if a country’s patent system were designed to allow this type of behavior,” Robin Feldman, Professor of Law at UC Hastings and author of the book Rethinking Patent Rights, said via email. Patent laws vary from country to country, so what flies in China, may not be allowed in the U.S., or vice versa. “If this behavior had occurred in the United States, Apple would have an action for misappropriation of trade secrets.”
Goophone has a history of creating smartphone doppelgangers, including flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC ONE S and iPhone 4. Some of the images on its website even appear to be press shots of the copied product itself. (Such is the case with the Galaxy S3 copycat.)
Apple has been involved in several intellectual property disputes in China. The company recently settled a trademark dispute over the iPad name with a financially troubled electronics company called Proview. Another Chinese company, Zhizhen Network Technology, says Apple’s Siri is infringing on its patented “instant messaging chat bot system.” And in a third case, Apple is being sued over the name Snow Leopard.