AAPL Stock: 117.81 ( -0.22 )

Printed from

Court docs show Apple took design inspiration from Sony

updated 06:13 am EDT, Fri July 27, 2012

Samsung filing claims Apple copied Sony for iPhone design

A Samsung filing has revealed what had been a highly confidential iPhone prototype that bears a Sony logo, according to The Verge. In one instance, the same design also carries a 'Jony' logo variant that appears to be a hat tip to Apple design chief Jony Ive. The court filing by Samsung appears intended to show that Apple derived its designs from the work of others, although the designs in question were developed in-house by Apple.

The prototype dates back to 2006, and has much in common with what eventually became the design for the iPhone 4 and 4S models. It was developed by Apple industrial designer Shin Nishibori who had been asked by Tony Fadell to design an iPhone that was influenced by Sony design language. Steve Jobs had often talked about making Apple "the Sony of computers" as he appreciated the way in which it developed slick devices.

Although the iPhone prototype does not draw directly from an actual shipping Sony product, it seems as though Samsung will try to demonstrate to the court that Samsung was only doing with its designs what Apple had been doing. It also appears that Samsung intends to put the case to the court that Apple has often drawn inspiration for its products from others.

The high-stakes court case is set to kick off in the next few days. Apple has already had one critical win with the court directing the jury to be advised that Samsung had destroyed evidence that the court had ordered they produce. Samsung is also trying to stop documents from being entered into the court which show Samsung's own employees commenting on the similarities between Samsung's products. Another set of documents show Best Buy alerting Samsung that a number of customers had returned their tablets because they incorrectly thought they had bought iPads.

by MacNN Staff



  1. koolkid1976

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-08-03

    I'm sorry, I thought this case was about slavishly copying...not about drawing inspiration from a company over a product that doesn't exist.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-16-05

    Samsung needs to make a trip to the stockroom of the nearest McDonald's. There it will find all kinds of straws to grasp at, all neatly packaged.

  1. ClickSpace

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-23-99

    Interesting how this design looks more like the iPhone 4 than what originally shipped as the first iPhone, yet this was designed way before the iPhone 4 shipped. Imagine what's in the pipeline now!

  1. ajprice

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 12-03-00

    Sony jog dial on the side, the bottom buttons at an angle seem a bit like the gameboy layout too.

  1. Robert Shepard

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-27-12

    To be honest, the iPhone 4, when I first saw the "stolen" one all over the internet, looked like it was inspired by the Sony PSP, but with less buttons.


  1. chabig

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 06-16-99

    Originally Posted by Robert ShepardView Post

    To be honest, the iPhone 4, when I first saw the "stolen" one all over the internet, looked like it was inspired by the Sony PSP, but with less buttons.

    I don't think there is a resemblance at all. Different shape. Different configuration. And of course--all those buttons!

  1. blahblahbber


    Joined: 02-01-05

    Like I said, and many have said... now in stone, you ready?.... APPLE STEALS, ITS JOBS FUNDAMENTALS.... BLUE BOX, PARC, THIS, AND DEVS FEATURES..... there, what do you sheeple think now??

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    Look who's 'slavishly' copying who... One minute, they say "We are shameless about copying great ideas." We can copy and steal your ideas but if you copy ours, we're taking you to court. Apple, what a disgraceful bunch.

  1. ClickSpace

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-23-99

    I think perhaps some of you fail to realize that the "SONY" phone above was designed by Apple and wasn't based on any SONY product. I think they just slapped a SONY logo on it because perhaps they were going to get SONY to manufacture it for them at one point. Who knows. The only vague resemblance to the PSP and the other images is the silver band around the outside.

  1. Cold Warrior


    Joined: 01-01-01

    There's quite a difference between photoshopping designs and actually building products through a mastery of industrial design and supply chain management. If Sony had tried to put this design to production, it would have had a plastic screen, 256 colors, an fm tuner, and a $300 external Minidisc adapter.

  1. graxspoo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-22-08

    It's interesting that some people commenting here seem to know how to write without knowing how to read.

    "Although the iPhone prototype does not draw directly from an actual shipping Sony product,"

    Get it? This was a tongue-in-cheek internal mock-up, with an homagé to Sony added as a bit of a joke. There are plenty of places where I think Apple falls short of brilliance, but here Samsung is clearly the guilty party. The Galaxy is a rip-off of the iPhone to an almost comical degree. Jobs, in the original iPhone presentation said "And boy, have we patented it." Well, guess what, patents need to get enforced if they are to be meaningful at all. Whether patents are a good thing or not is a different discussion.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented