Do you remember the GooPhone i5? It sounded like something you’d buy at a joke shop that would spurt some odious fluid down the inner cochlea of an unsuspecting victim who held it up to his ear, but it was actually a wonderfully brazen knock-off of the upcoming sixth-generation iPhone.
And hilariously, this pre-emptive copycat is already threatening to sue Apple over the iPhone 5, claiming to have patented the design.
The GooPhone i5 is pretty much your stock Chinese clone device of the most current iPhone. At first blush, it kind of looks similar to the iPhone, but it has inferior internals and runs Android 4.1 Jellybean instead of iOS.
The difference, though, is that unlike most Chinese knock-offs, the makers of the GooPhone i5 managed to announce their device before Apple announced the new iPhone. They managed to do this because, compared to past iPhones, the appearance and design of the 2012 iPhone has been leaked months ahead of time all across the interne, giving the company ample time to swipe.
In other words, just because they got out a working product first doesn’t mean they didn’t steal the GooPhone’s design from Apple. But tricksy, tricksy GooPhone is claiming that the opposite is true, and that they’ve already patented the GooPhone’s design in China, giving them the right to block the next iPhone from being sold in the country once it’s released.
This seems like promotional bluster, but they may actually have a case: Chinese company Proview was able to successfully blackmail Apple out of $60 million over the “iPad” trademark.
Even so, it’s hard to imagine how the GooPhone’s design could be patented, and if it is patented, how it could be applied successfully against the next iPhone. For one, although both have similar shapes, Apple owns patents on the iPhone’s general shape going back years, and that patent is enforceable at least in the United States, as Samsung recently discovered to their peril. In addition, the GooPhone i5 has completely different dimensions than the next iPhone, and the two-toned back on the GooPhone is just for show, where as on the next iPhone it’s most likely an integrated part of the handset’s antenna design.