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Apple says 'Purple' iPhone concept predates Sony's art

Samsung has charged Apple with allegedly copying Sony's phone designs with the iPhone, but there appears to be one design that predated Sony's.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Apple's iPhone Purple concept from 2005.
Apple's iPhone Purple concept from 2005. Apple/SB Nation

Sony has been dragged into Apple's bitter patent dispute with Samsung, but the iPhone maker wants to stop that.

Samsung recently charged Apple with copying Sony smartphone and Walkman designs with its iPhone. That alleged copying, the company argues, should prove "the invalidity of Apple's designs."

However, Apple yesterday filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, saying that Samsung's claims should be thrown out. And to back up its point, it provided to the court an iPhone concept design it developed in 2005, called "Purple." The white iPhone-looking device comes with a thin body, prominent screen on the front, and "menu" button.

The Verge first reported on the news.

For Apple, the device's design is not nearly as important as when it was developed. According to the company, Purple was developed in August 2005. Sony's so-called Nishibori Design, named for its designer, was developed in March 2006, Apple claims.

"Apple requests that the Court enforce Judge Grewal's Order by excluding evidence that Apple's designs were derived from Sony's design language, from Mr. Nishibori's exercise in applying Sony-style design details to the iPhone, or from Sony handsets of the time," Apple attorney Michael A. Jacobs writes in the motion. "Because this evidence is not admissible to prove the invalidity of Apple's patents, it should not come in for any purpose."

Apple and Samsung's back-and-forth is part of the companies' bitter patent disputes being battled around the world. Apple argues that Samsung has violated its patents, and Samsung has said the same about Apple's devices. The companies are heading to trial in the U.S. today. If Apple wins its case, the company could be awarded $2.5 billion in damages and bar from sale any Samsung products that infringe its patents. Samsung is also seeking cash in the trial.

Both companies' court filings have been a treasure trove of goodies for reporters, featuring everything from images of Apple's first tablet prototype to details on how Apple's products were developed. Just yesterday, All Things Digital combed through the filings and found dozens of sketches and prototypes Apple has included in court documents of past iPhone designs. The concepts boast everything from iPhone-like finishes to some decidedly odd designs.