- Apple is a secretive company that doesn’t usually share its early prototype designs publicly.
- But photos of several early internal iPhone models were made public in an epic court battle with Samsung in 2012.
- The legal fight has lasted over 5 years with no signs of stopping — a judge ordered a new trial earlier this week.
One of the most bitter legal fights in modern technology history got new life earlier this week after a judge ordered a new trial in the battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over whether the Korean company copied the look of the original iPhone.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered a $399 million award against Samsung late last year, but district judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial on Sunday. Samsung had previously paid Apple $548 million.
The legal fight has lasted over five years. “I would prefer to not keep doing this until I retire,” Koh said at a hearing earlier this week.
Apple fans may remember the legal battle not for setting precedents over design patents, but rather for giving us the best look ever into Apple’s prototype design process. In 2012, Samsung filed exhibits that lifted the veil of secrecy around how Apple comes up with new products. Among sketches, emails, and computer files, one exhibit included a slew of photographs of actual iPhone prototype designs.
The designs range from a chunky iPad design to models that you might be able to recognize as early iPhones. It also includes several interesting design directions that Apple decided not to pursue, including a MacBook Air-like aluminum shell and an iPhone with eight sides and squared-off corners.
“While Apple has been able to keep some things private, there have clearly been more things made public than the secretive company would prefer,” Ina Fried wrote at the time for AllThingsD.
Although Koh has allowed both sides to pursue additional discovery in the latest trial between the two electronics giants, it’s unlikely that this chapter of the legal battle will produce anything as interesting to the public as these prototype photos.
The photos have been reproduced below. Take a look: