Apple accused of copying iPad design

Chinese company claims design of its own P88 tablet device is original; threatens to sue Apple for stealing product design, according to reports.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

Chinese hardware manufacturer, Shenzhen Great Loong Brother Industrial, is exploring a possible lawsuit against Apple over allegations the iPad design was a copy of its own tablet PC.

In a news report by Spanish daily El Mundo, the Chinese company's president, Wu Xiaolong, said in an interview that the iPad was similar to its P88, which was commercially launched in October last year.

Wu said he was "angry and flabbergasted" after seeing the news about Apple's iPad.

"It is certainly our design. They've stolen [it] because we presented our P88 to everyone six months ago at the IFA (International Electronics Fair) [in Berlin]," he was quoted in a Shanghaiist article, which cited extensively from El Mundo's report.

Shenzhen Great Loong Brother Industrial is based in Shenzhen, China. The Chinese city is recognized as a location where the manufacture of "shanzhai" or "copycat" mobile phones and other electronic devices is proliferate, Bryan Wang, Springboard Research's Asia-Pacific research director for connectivity and country manager of China, told ZDNet Asia in a previous report.

But Wu, in a separate report by PCWorld, was quoted to say about the company's P88: "For this thing, we are not 'shanzhai' because we were first."

Shenzhen Great Loong Brother Industrial submitted a patent application for the P88 last May, according to Wu, who noted that the approval process can take about a year, making it difficult for the company to sue Apple in the United States. But, he added that "if the iPad enters the Chinese market, we will sue them this spring".

An earlier report by the Shanghaiist stated that the P88 has a 10.2-inch screen that uses resistive touch and runs on an Intel Atom 1.6 gigahertz (GHz) chip, with a battery life of 1.5 hours. Comparatively, the iPad boasts a 9.7-inch capacitive multitouch screen, and is powered by a 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed chip with a stated battery life of 10 hours.

Wu's threat of legal action is not the only lawsuit the Cupertino-based company may potentially face.

The New York Times last week reported that Fujitsu is currently talking to lawyers over the iPad naming rights. The Japanese company said it first applied for an iPad trademark in 2003 for a multifunctional device used by shop clerks to "verify prices, check real-time inventory data and close sales on the go", and which is sold mainly in the United States.

"It's our understanding that the name is ours," Masahiro Yamane, director of Fujitsu's public relations division, said in the report.

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