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Apple lawyers exterminate iPhone clone sellers – Jobs and Gates now BFF?


Apple lawyers have apparently been busy for the past few months destroying iPhone clone sellers in the UK who have been supplying copycat Chinese iPhones over the Internet. One casualty, which is now all but bankrupt, is Digital Playworld which received the full frontal assault of an army of Apple legal Rottweilers who, in the words of Simon Rimmer, Digital Playworld’s managing director, ‘came at me all guns blazing, big bully boy tactics’.

It seems that Mr Jobs’ henchmen were not best pleased that the clone products ‘created the same overall impression’ as the Apple products. According to Rimmer –

“Apple also stated that they were the owner of Unregistered Community Design Rights in its iPhone, iPod Touch and other products. They stated that “The similar [sic] between the products and their Designs is striking, In particular they said that my iClone products – which they listed in their letter – created the same impression as several of their Apple Community Registered Designs. They claimed that I acknowledged this similarity by using phrases such as ‘iPhone style’, ‘in the style of iPhone’ and ‘looks very like the iPhone’ in my descriptions.

Moreover, Apple also claimed that I was misrepresenting to the public that the products I sold were ‘associated or licensed’ by Apple thereby causing them damage. This was despite the descriptions actually stating that these phones were NOT Apple iPhones”


  As a small business, Rimmer felt he had no choice but to settle rather than put up a financially crippling legal defence, and so he settled out of court. The terms of the settlement are interesting –

“In order to settle out of court I had to take several undertakings, which
included amongst other things:
Remove all said items from my site (or any other sites) and stop selling
Sign an oath that I would not offer to sell, market, import or stock ANY
products which are strikingly similar in design to Apple’s registered
Deliver to Apple’s legal team all remaining products in my possession,
suppliers details, prices paid for them, numbers imported, marketed and
I had to pay a contribution to their legal expenses AND damages.

So after all the costs and losing stock, I am as good as broke now!”

Now this may seem like justice gained for the giant Cupertino megacorps, and while it’s clear that some of the clones were indeed guilty of straight up IP theft – er…sticking an Apple logo on the back of the handset, copying the icons and making the box look identical to the original iPhone box is not clever at all, OK Mr Chinese gentlemen? – it’s interesting to see that Apple made Rimmer remove all clones from his site, even the ones which had no real link to the original apart from the fact that they both had black touchscreens and a power on button.

And as for signing an oath never to sell ANY products which are strikingly similar to Apple’s designs? Hmm…that sounds like something straight out of the Microsoft playbook. How are you to define similar? What happens if a product design pre-dates Apple’s design, can he not sell it?

The moral of this story is don’t mess with black roll-neck sweater wearing dudes, no matter how cuddly they look on stage.


  • No, the moral of the story is to GET SOME MORALS. He is lucky his entire business was not confiscated as it should have been.

    It is wrong, illegal, cheating, shameful, etc. to knowingly be buying and selling those knock-offs. There should be zero-tolerance for this world-wide. Why shy this doofus profit off Apple’s hard work and all the money spent by Apple on research and development just so this bum and some communists can turn a quick profit.

    Serves him right. Go APPLE and Steve Jobs.

  • Hmm…interesting. You a fan of the RIAA too? :-)

  • … and Nazi Germany?

  • Jhawk95 is right. And the RIAA is right in protecting it’s property as well. Has the whole world gone crazy? Suddenly people who steal from companies are hailed as heroes? These same networks of counterfeit artists poisoned 300 some people in Panama with fake cough syrup. No matter how hard you spin the issue, the counterfeiters must be stopped.

  • I think there is a misunderstanding here.

    There is a marked difference in selling a similiar “cloned” product much like an “clone” IBM PC (where the person purchasing is aware that it is not actually a genuine IBM), versus selling a “counterfeit” cough syrup (where the person purchasing is puposefully mislead into believing authenticity, culpable deception).

    Remeber these are not “counterfeit” iPhones. They were “clones”.

    But of course the real deception going on here is the prosecution by way of “designs registration.” When Apple copies something, it’s okay. When somebody copies Apple, it’s a lawsuit.

  • They are actually protecting you. You would be PISSED if you bought what you thought was an iPhone and got a cheap knock off. Some are even using the logo on the boxes.

    Let’s say you are smart enough, but maybe your mom buys you a christmas present. Money down the drain. Might not even work when you open it. And that hurts Apple’s reputation too.

    Now to address the stealing from companies thing. If you think companies will continue to make products or bands make music… they won’t. Not if a million copies are made. Record labels are losing money and cutting artists. One shot to make it. If the first song isn’t a hit… you’re gone. Used to be they had time to believe in them.

  • I think a few are missing the point here. If anyone would care to take a look at the iClones shootout that Nigel did you will see that most of these phones are quite clearly not trying to pass off as iPhones as they have buttons to make and receive calls, but are similar to the iPhone in that they are styled in a similar way, just as the LG KE850 is in the style of the iPhone (even the user interface is very similar), so is the LG KS20, LG KU990 Viewty, Samsung F490 and many others.
    In fact the iClones look more like these phones in many ways.
    The only iclone that WAS actually like the iPhone was the HiPhone (I32/P169).
    However no action is taken against the likes of Samsung, LG etc who are making millions from their iPhone ‘style’ phones.

    The other point to mention is people who buy a £110 iclone would never buy iPhone anyway, so Apple are not losing out.

  • I think there is a misunderstanding here.

    If they use the Apple logo or copy the design – they are counterfeit products. If they use another brand to sell product and and play on people’s ignorance they are guilty of fraud.

    Either way, the distributor/fence is guilty. Easy.


  • Kainnon, if you put an Apple logo on it or represent it is an Apple product it isn’t a clone� it’s a counterfeit. Read the damn article.

  • Is it actually illegal to sell some of them?… Some look similiar.. but have more feautures like dual sim quadband 6 speakers..

    for example would this be infriging anything of apples?

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