Apple and Samsung yesterday kicked off their high-profile patent dispute trial in the U.S., with a third electronics giant reportedly being added to the mix.
Samsung is now claiming that Apple's design for the iPhone infringes on early smartphone and Walkman designs from Tokyo-based Sony, attempting to draw commonalities between the two companies' products to further prove the invalidity of Apple's designs.
Apple already has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California refuting the claims, arguing that its early iPhone concept design -- code-named "Purple" -- predates the Sony-based Nishibori design that has been called into question by Samsung.
The Purple design, Apple argued, was rolled out in August 2005, nearly seven months before Sony's design, which was developed in March 2006.
The Nishibori design was developed by Apple designer Shin Nishibori, who Samsung claims was instructed by Apple to design a "Sony-like" handset in 2006.
Samsung wants to use this argument to prove that Apple has borrowed other vendors’ designs, just as much as it alleges Samsung to have done.
Apple is also arguing against similarities between the look and feel of both designs, saying that its Purple concept for the iPhone "embodied a symmetrical aesthetic, with centered displays and menu buttons," while the Nishibori design has "asymmetrical buttons and a jog-wheel to the right side of the device."
Based on these arguments, Apple has requested that all Sony-related designs be withdrawn as evidence from the case.
"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 wrote in its motion.
"Because this evidence is not admissible to prove the invalidity of Apple's patents, it should not come in for any purpose."
Samsung's claims that Apple infringed on design patents from Sony are in addition to its pre-existing claims that Apple infringed on its patents for its Galaxy line of Android-based smartphones and tablets.
Apple, meanwhile, is arguing that Samsung's Galaxy products are "slavish copies" of its own iPhone and iPad designs.
The stakes are high for both tech titans. Apple reportedly is seeking up to $US2.5 billion in damages from Samsung, along with a permanent ban on the sale of all Galaxy products if they are found to infringe on its patents.
A preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 device has already been established in the U.S., with its waiver depending on the outcome of the trial.
Samsung also is seeking financial damages from Apple.