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Apple moves to protect iPhone UI

updated 03:30 pm EST, Mon January 15, 2007

Apple protects iPhone UI

It's been less than a week since the iPhone was announced and the product is not even expected to ship for another six months, but Apple is aggressively protecting its Mac OS X-like interface on the iPhone. A group of users has already developed a skin for Windows mobile that enables users to mimic the iPhone interface, but one website that posted screenshots and links to the hack has already been threatened by Apple and its legal team. IT Pro reports that Apple has "engaged in fighting talk" over screenshots and a link to XDA-developers forum that describes the Windows mobile hack. Apple's law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP has sent Paul O'Brien, founder of MoDaCo, a virtual Windows mobile community, a letter demanding that the website operator remove screen shots showcasing the mimicked interface as well as the link to the offending website.

According to the report, Apple's legal team claimed that O'Brien is violating Apple copyrights and that links the third-party website that "facilitate" the windows mobile hack. O'Brien subsequently removed the screenshots and the link.

"We represent Apple Computer, Inc. ('Apple') and are authorized to act on Apple's behalf to investigate and take legal action with respect to the unauthorized dissemination of Apple's copyrighted material. It has come to our attention that you have posted a screenshot of Apple's new iPhone and links that facilitate the installation of that screenshot on a Pocket PC device," Apple wrote in a letter to O'Brien.

"While we appreciate your interest in the iPhone, the icons and screenshot displayed on your website are copyrighted by Apple, and copyright law explicitly prohibits unauthorized display and distribution of copyrighted works."

by MacNN Staff




  1. ruperts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this is ridiculous

    it's only a skin, wtf... they are not mimicking the functionality...

  1. dozx

    Joined: Dec 1969


    you are ridiculous

    It is not just a skin.......... It will become part of there identity and as such it needs to be protected. Apple is known for a much better user experience than Microsoft and to have that reputation possibly marred or confused with this "skin" could hurt Apple. Who knows what person might use a friends win-mobile device with this skin on it and think it was made by Apple and hates it then never even considers an iPhone because some hack made a skin to run on a pice of c***.

  1. Visnaut

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Although I don't really buy dozx's scenario, Apple has the right to defend their intellectual property.

    They've just spend 2.5 years R&D'ing and developing this thing, and now some punk comes along and copies a part of the interface in a matter of days for use in what will become a competing product?

    I'm sorry, but as excited as you may be about the product, it doesn't give you the right to commit copyright infringement.

    Nor does the fact that you bought two iPods and are thinking of buying a MacBook give you that right either, as O'Brien seems to be whining about.

  1. lordarka

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Completely understandable

    I imagine the interface is the subject to copyright, trademark, and patent protections. The biggest possible worry is if the skin creates confusion among users as to where the interface and the underlying OS came from. Given Windows' less than stellar usability and stability reputation, I would be concerned if I was Apple, and people started to free-ride on my hard earned interface conventions. More power to Apple.

  1. bredlo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wonder if that's a fake email, not really from Apple. I say this because they say they represent Apple Computer.... and everybody knows by now that Apple, Inc. is no longer called Apple Computer.

    Boy, I'm good.

  1. aafuss

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Looks like Apple's lawyers are at it again-targeting someone who offered a Windows Mobile today screen that looked like Apple's iPhone.

    Although, I'd wonder if they would ask me to remove a image of a Babya application that looks like the iPhone-such as this one:

    It has the Babya light-gray color scheme-and the Babya logo.

  1. wjdennen

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Quelch is not in the dictionary.

    Did you mean "squelch"?

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What about...

    people with visual disability?

    Almost all phone with a proper keypad allows people with visual disabilities to type in numbers to make calls? How will they use the Apple iPhone? Apple are you listening...

    Don't tell me that this phone is only for people who can see. I believe you are using OS X so you can program (a lot easier than hardware reconfiguration) the phone to provide audio clues or allow gestures with audio feedback to the special people to utilize the phone's great capabilities.

    I am not emphasizing the fact that God has provided us with 10 stylus built in our human body, but I do believe some of them have lost them too. What about an optional stylus?

    Apple has a great phone in the works (it will be out soon) but to make it "The Greatest" phone around, help make lives better for all.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: what about....

    Uh...voice dialing.

  1. rahrens

    Joined: Dec 1969




    No, you're not good. It was a LETTER, not an email. They're called "cease and desist letters", because they use the legal terms "cease", meaning stop, and "desist", which means refrain, causing the phrase to mean stop using our property and refrain from doing so in the future.

    It was probably from a template, and somebody at the law firm hasn't changed the template yet. I'm sure they will, and it's mistaken inclusion does not change the legality of the demand at all.

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