Apple Finally Gets Its Patent for That "iPhone" Thing

Illustration for article titled Apple Finally Gets Its Patent for That iPhone Thing

A design patent, to be exact, meaning: You can't make a brazen copy of the iPhone and iPod Touch's "ornamental design," or else you'll get sued to death. Of course, this isn't just about crude knockoffs.

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The hardware design patent, which includes illustrations and descriptions of what are clearly first-gen iPhone and iPod Touch devices (they look so quaint now!), could conceivably be wielded widely, against pretty much anyone that's veered just a little too close to Apple's industrial design. As for how close it too close, that'll be Apple's call, then a court's. But I'm guess anywhere close is too close. Taiwan, I'm guessing, is too close.

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Apple's always had a leg to stand on against straight-up knockoff artists, and the patent contains references to a bunch of blog posts about garbagey street gear plastered with Apple logos, but this also gives them a little more strength—or at least the image of strength—against larger companies that Apple wants to take on in court. [MacStories via Engadget]

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DISCUSSION

I really doubt this gives Apple any fuel to go off any company that isn't making a carbon-copy iPhone knockoff.

Just looking at the sketches, all of us can not only clearly tell what company makes that phone, but what generation it is. Given the limitations of design for objects that serve similar purposes, I can think of no mainstream phones that look like the iPhone.

Once again, objects that serve similar purposes will look similar. Take cars/trucks, cameras, laptops, televisions, phones, MP3 players, etc. That doesn't mean they're infringing on design patents. I can clearly tell the difference between a Samsung TV and an LG, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc., and not just because of the logo. And yet, they all share the same form factor.