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Fake In India: Makers of Freedom 251 justify copying Apple designs

Freedom 251 smartphone Updated: Feb 20, 2016 13:53 IST
Pranav Dixit
Freedom 251

Noida-based Ringing Bells launches Freedom 251 - the cheapest smartphone ever in New Delhi.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

The Freedom 251 released by Noida-based company Ringing Bells, is the world’s cheapest smartphone. It costs Rs 251 -- approximately $4 -- and raises more questions than answers.

Read | Ringing trouble for cheapest smartphone: Accused of copying iPhone

The phone, which, the company says will be pre-loaded with Government of India apps like Swacch Bharat, blatantly violates Apple copyright. All the icons of the built-in app are a pixel-to-pixel copy of Apple’s iOS icons. Here’s a screenshot below for comparison.

The images on the left and centre have been captured from the Freedom 251. On the right is a screenshot of Apple iOS. Notice any similarities?

When the Hindustan Times asked the company about possible Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violation, Ringing Bells technical head Vikas Sharma said: “We used Apple’s icons because Apple hasn’t copyrighted its designs.”

Watch | Freedom 251, world’s ‘cheapest’ smartphone launched in India

This, of course, is completely untrue. Apple has patents for everything -- including the rounded edges of the rectangular screen of the iPad -- and its app icons are copyrighted too.

Read | Will Rs 251 smartphone bring joy to Ringing Bells founder ‘Cutemohit’?

On a page on intellectual property on its website, Apple clearly states: You may not use the Apple Logo or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, promotional/advertising materials, or for any other purpose except pursuant to an express written trademark license from Apple, such as a reseller agreement.

Ringing Bells declined to state whether the company has a license from Apple.

The Hindustan Times has reached out to Apple for a comment and will update this story when it comes in.

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