back to article Apple refutes 'Sony Jony' iPhone prototypes

Apple has cocked a snook at Samsung's claim that the iPhone's look was based on Sony designs by showing off a series of blueprints - all closer to the iPhone design - that predate the controversial 'Jony' sketches. The Cupertino company's "Purple" concept materialised in August 2005, long before the Jony mock-up was made, …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Vote with your Pounds

    Support the company you think is right. Ignore the one you think is wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vote with your Pounds

      Now that's a seriously tough one. Samsung are highly abusive with their patents, and are under investigation for FRAND abuse, so they're first to be crossed off the shopping list. Scratch motorola for the same reason.

      Apple are at least on the right side of the line with anything FRAND related, but then we see about a billion lawsuits with "Apple Vs. " on the front cover, so I guess they're out.

      Nokia are stepping up their efforts to sue everyone and their uncle, so lets count them out too.

      Microsoft? They actually have the best attitude out of all the companies so far. They're even better than apple on FRAND, and unlike apple they're happy to license their patents rather than saying "this is all mine and you can't have it". They don't make phones unfortunately!

      Then there's HTC and the like. HTC are hard to judge - they just don't have enough patents of their own to cause any serious damage. They've not been all that good when given a chance though.

      RIM maybe?

      1. Joseph Lord

        Re: Vote with your Pounds

        Of course the Motorola you are scratching (rightly and reasonably) for FRAND abuse is now Google so you can also scratch anything Android based (and Google Search, G+, Youtube, Reader, Gmail, Google Docs,...)

        We better hope the Facebook phone comes soon so there is something ethical to buy.

      2. jabuzz

        Re: Vote with your Pounds

        Apple are actually on the wrong side of the FRAND. Samsung offered the same FRAND terms as they do to everyone else and Apple turned them down. The reason being that Samsung's FRAND terms include a mobile patent cross license. Apple wanted to keep all it's mobile patents to itself so refused the deal as they just wanted to pay cash for the FRAND patents. Then used the patents without paying any license fee. Read the court submission from Samsung, Apple will eventually loose and loose badly on this one...

        Samsung would actually have been in breach of it's FRAND obligations if it had given Apple a different deal, because the deal must be NONE DISCRIMINATORY, and not requiring Apple to cross license all it's mobile patents would have been discriminatory.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vote with your Pounds

          @jabuzz: What you wrote there is all kinds of wrong. Samsung agreed to license their FRAND patents at the pre-standand-setting cash value. They have to make a *cash* offer to apple, based on these pre-standards values. Apple do not have to hand over all of their patents just to get access to 3G. And they surely don't have to pay 2.4% of the retail value of the product as an alternative.

          Besides, samsung have confirmed the number of companies they've signed up at the rates they were asking from MS and apple: zero. They had to give this info to the court, it's there in public court documents.

          Both companies put out plenty of propaganda, don't believe any of it :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chris19

            So you think it's ok for Samsung to receive pennies for stuff that actually makes a phone work and cost millions in development but Apple should receive dollars for bouncy scroll bars?

            1. chr0m4t1c

              @AC 12.44

              In case you hadn't noticed, that's how the system is meant to work.

              Samsung (and others) developed technologies that became part of the 3G standard. For every one that was adopted there is at least one other competing solution that didn't get adopted and the company that developed it gets SFA despite having pumped millions into it too. This is the gamble you take.

              Once your technology is accepted into the standard and becomes essential, you must license it fairly and non-discriminatory. That's to prevent someone like Nokia (who developed a significant proportion of the GSM and 3G standards) from simply cranking up the license costs to keep everyone else out of the market.

              Apple's patents are for non-essential stuff, in other words it's perfectly possible to make a phone without infringing on any of them and that's why they don't have to license them in any fair or non-discrimanatory way.

              The merits (or lack of) either side's case is irrelevant, neither is the amount of money they invested in developing their patents nor is the amount they receive in license fees, this is just how the system works. And they all play it, make no mistakes.

    2. Andrew James

      Re: Vote with your Pounds

      How about you pick the one that makes a device that has the best trade off between desired features, actual features, and image conciousness.

      Yes, i might be able to get a chinese cheap android that does the job, but no, i dont want it. For example.

      People do vote with the wallets, and thats why all the law suits keep popping up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vote with your Pounds

        "How about you pick the one that makes a device that has the best trade off between desired features, actual features, and image conciousness."

        I think that's the only way to do it. If you try and judge these companies on ethical grounds, you'll end up with a couple of tin cans and some string (from hemp that died of old age, naturally). Some are worse than others, that's about the best you can say.

        Buy the phone that suits you. If it was a shameless clone of some other phone, or used some tech that some company patented before some other company, the courts will sort it out for you and some money will move from one numbered account to another in a few years time. If it turns out later that it wasn't a shameless clone, or that patent turned out to be a pile of crap, a different court will order money to go back the other way a few years later.

        In other words, if you buy a phone from some company today, some other company might get your money anyway.

    3. HMB

      Re: Vote with your Pounds - Nonsense

      This is such a stupid comment to make... Why?

      Well the whole thing that's incensed many is that products are being banned from sale for reasons that may not stand up as ethical or fair.

      How can you vote with your pounds if the courts have taken the product off the shelves for you? Your line has no substance. The public are being denied the vote.

      Yes it will affect the UK too, it's an international market in this day and age.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Vote with your Pounds - Nonsense

        Does anyone remember that eighties movie where someone tries to employ the guests of a mental institution to design advertisements for Sony?

        - Found it! 'Crazy People' with Dudly Moore ( and 'Burke' out of 'Aliens' as a company toadie, again)

        Worth watching for the advertising slogans: "SONY: because Caucasians are just too damn tall" and "FRNXT GHRT SONY GURM"

        1. Andrew James

          Re: Vote with your Pounds - Nonsense

          Volvo: They're boxy, but they're good.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vote with your Pounds - Nonsense

        Id don't know 1 person who is incensed over this, and I have likewise never met a random person who is incensed by this matter. I am not incensed either.

        You != Many


    4. Captain Save-a-ho
      Thumb Down

      Re: Vote with your Pounds

      For me, the earth would have to open up and swallow them both whole. Here's to hoping the judge finds them both guilty and throws it out from the sheer magnitude of disgust the trial will likely generate. This whole thing can't be over quick enough. Aren't we all sick of hearing about this by now?

    5. LarsG

      So now

      Lay the blame on Sony for copyright espionage.

  2. ukgnome

    I think this is a load of old balls - both companies should be ashamed.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "quick make up some prototype sketches.."

    really Apple..... Just give up....

  4. gort

    According to Samsung, "As Mr. Nishibori has confirmed in deposition testimony, this Sony-style design he prepared changed the course of the project that yielded the final iPhone design." Apple is now trying to get this testimony stricken.

  5. Wang N Staines

    I need new glasses

    The iPhone looks more like the Jony than the Purple.

  6. Toothpick

    I thought....

    Apple had essentially "borrowed" a Sony design and told Samsung to fuck off and "borrow" off someone else.

    Has this now changed?

    1. Psyx

      Re: I thought....

      Yes; the facts of the universe will change to whatever Apple and their lawyers tell them to change to.

      They started by making Jobs' reality distortion field an actual working thing, and went from there.

      Their next court case will declare that Samsung's board of directors is dolphins. And that act itself will make it true.

      I really hope they don't change Avogadro's Constant, or we'll be looking for a new universe to live in.

      1. Dr. Mouse
        Big Brother

        Re: I thought....

        "Yes; the facts of the universe will change to whatever Apple and their lawyers tell them to change to."

        The Apple Ministry of Truth in action!

        Just to qualify, I am not saying Apple is in the wrong, or Samsung, or anyone, just that this comment makes it sound like 1984 has come true.

  7. Magnus_Pym

    They are all the same

    All touch screen mobile phone projects must have a similar looking sketch in there somewhere. After all there is only so much you can do with existing screens and minimal button designs.

    1. Alex Gollner

      Re: They are all the same

      The 20+ Apple prototype designs at AllThingsD show how different phones with a large touch screen and a single button can look.

      The fact that Apple considered so many designs might cause problems for Samsung. Some say that Samsung's phones look very similar the one design in 30 that Apple happened to use. The more Apple designs, the less this is likely to be a coincidence.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: They are all the same

        No. The similar prototype from Sony if it doesn't show blatant copying by Apple does demonstrate how form follows function here. Given the same components and the same parts and the same expertise, you are likely to end up with a lot of "copies".

        This is why the bar for granting patents should be more like a pole vault and less like a limbo.

        Otherwise you prevent multiple entities in industry from applying the same level of expertise and getting a similar result. That is far more damaging than whatever benefit arises from giving Apple (or anyone else) ownership of the market.

        Citizens should be less tolerant of these shenanigans. Some tar and some feathers should enter in here somewhere. Perhaps even some dumping in Boston harbor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They are all the same

          I may have missed something important, but ...

          My understanding of the "Jony" sketch was that it was a thought experiment performed at Apple (or for them) by someone being paid by Apple at the time. Like, "Hey, what if we took the design philiosophy of someone else (in this case Sony) and made a phone? How would it look?". I did not read that the design was ACTUALLY a Sony design.

          If I thought of a catchy melody, and thought to myself, "Hey, what would Mozart have done with this" and then proceed to write a symphony in Mozart's style, would I be guily of anything whatsoever? Forget that Mozart is dead, since Mozart didn't think of the melody (I did), it is my work. Just because I like Mozart's style, doesn't mean Mozart is responsible for my symphony or that I in fact copied anything whatsoever.

          Well, maybe that is too hard for people who are tone deaf :(


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't we just disqualify them both?

    Yes! throw them both out of the sandpit until they both learn to play together.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess the only possibly bright (not so dark?) spot in all this is that it will be a jury trial, instead of just Lucy "I love Apple" Koh.

    Then again, it's a jury of people who live in/near Cupertino, so not sure how partial it will be.

  10. ZeroP

    Still just

    looks like a rounded-corner rectangle to me.

  11. Pahhh

    Rock and hard place

    Unfortunantly they are all shite.

    I wont part with my iThings as I like them very much but I do find it depressing that I dislike Apple so much. A company thats had an incredible ability to make nice things without any ability to actually invent anything.

    Why can't Apple be happy with their ability to make better designs without the bogus claims.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rock and hard place

      Apple know all too well that it is possible to create phones that look and behave differently.

      Android is close to iOS and Samsung's previous galaxy phones are the closest in style to Apple phones (pre-iPhone 4). HTCs phones have looked distinctive and so have Motorola's phones.

      Nokia's WP7 phones look different to the iPhone and the OS is much different. So to claim you can only do a touch screen phone in the same shape is stupid. The new Galaxy S3 looks much different now, so they could do it.

  12. A Butler

    Smartphone running out of ideas

    Its obvious the whole smartphone sector is starting to stagnate, Apple knows this so I cannot beat a competitor with innovation as the well is running dry, so it needs a victory in the courts.

    The iPhone is rapidly heading down the iPod commoditization route so Apple needs massive market share but less profit per device to sustain the current share price.

    Expect the iPhone 5 to be a damp squib. Hence the legal importance a bit of a pity really as Apple was once a great innovative company.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is Apple obliged to invent anything?

    Samsung comes out with a device that's exactly the same as their last device except with 10% more pixels or a processor that's 10% faster, and everybody pats them on the back.

    When Apple does the same, everybody complains that they never invent anything new.

    Seems like the best evidence that they DO invent things, i.e., if everybody expects something game-changing from them every 1-2 years...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is Apple obliged to invent anything?

      I think you have that the wrong way round. Samsung include nice new innovative things like tracking eye movement to make sure you are actually using the phone. Apple are the ones who up the pixels and declare 'look brand new and even shinier'

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the "Purple" looks like the P900. Thin border on the sides and large cover plates at the top and bottom. So "Purple" was just a copy of the P900 from 2003. What is the P900, Sony-Ericsson. Apple loves the Sony designs is what this proves.

  15. Pahhh

    Good Design is not the same as invention

    Good Design is NOT the same as invention. In the middle somewhere is innovation.

    Apple stuff is incredibly well designed. Designs that cover both hardware and software. But as much as I love their products, I dont see any invention.

    I would argue also their stuff isnt even innovative. Just about everything Apple has ever done has been an evolution of an earlier idea. Yeah, Apple made the idea work better than other companies but I'm at loss at where the innovation is yet alone invention.

    All in one devices that run apps been around since the Palm. What Apple did though is create a device using better materials, displays, batteries, processing power, etc. Tablets are not Apple's invention. In fact I just can't think of anything worthwhile that Apple invented. From the earliest days Steve Job plagerised from other people. The Apple Mac with its WYSIWYG and Windowing system was an idea stollen from Xerox research lab. Steve J is the biggest IP thief there ever was.

    Apple can take these ideas and commoditise them like no-one on earth. Sony I think are probably the only other company that consistantly been able to do this type of stuff but the problem with Sony their products are mared by poor software. This is where Apple wins.

    Saying that Android is like iOS is pretty pathetic. It misses the very thing that makes iOS special, which is a consistantly uniform and predictable interface. Apple Nazi like control of the Apps helps this and for that I thank them.

    So I'm an Apple gadget fanboi. I do think their devices are game changing because of the effort they have made to make them sleek and for their use of latest technologies.

    But is the iPhone / iPad innovative ? No, it isnt in the same way that Aston Martins are not innovative but they are incredibly desirable. The difference though Aston Martin arent proclaiming they invented curvy sports cars.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good Design is not the same as invention

      Well, "inventions" are largely a question of semantics. Many people think that inventions can only be revolutionary and tangible items like the light bulb or the internal combustion engine. Apparently you fall into that camp. But I think it's just as valid to say that certain new arrangements of things can also be inventions, e.g., somebody invented the impressionism technique/style of painting, and somebody invented the rotary engine. Basically just rearrangements of things that were already well-understood, the same way Apple rearranged existing computer parts and software to make the iPhone, iPad, etc. Yes, there were already phones and tablets that were similar in many ways to the iPhone and iPad but they were all different in meaningful enough ways that I'm completely comfortable thinking that Apple invented the current notions of smartphones and tablets...

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