Apple SVP of Design Jony Ive Lashes Out Against iPhone Copies, ‘It’s Not Flattery, It’s Theft’

Apple's design guru Jony Ive isn't particularly loud mouthed or known for a quick temper like some industry players -- we're looking at you, T-Mobile chief John Legere -- but he also isn't afraid to offer up an honest response on topics that personally affect him. One of those topics is the design of the iPhone and how he feels when he sees rival phone makers copy parts of the design.

Let's just say that Ives isn't having any of that 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' nonsense. Taking his position way over on the other side of the spectrum about as far away as you can get to flattery, Ives considers the practice theft, plain and simple.

iPhone 6

"I don't see it as flattery. I see it as theft," Ives said in response to what he thinks about Xiaomi, a Chinese startup that is often criticized for copying Apple designs. "When you're doing something for the first time, for example with the phone, and you don't know it's going to work, and you spend seven or eight years working on something, and then it's copied -- I have to be honest, the first thing I think isn't 'Oh, that was flattering,'"

"All those weekends I could have had at home with my lovely family but didn't, but the flattery made up for it," Ives sarcastically added. "I think it's theft and lazy. I don't think it's OK at all."

Ive's sentiment brings to memory the way Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs felt about Android. At one point, Jobs vowed to "destroy Apple, because it's a stolen product." He felt so strongly about it that he was willing -- or said he was willing -- to spend every penny of Apple's to get the job done.

Apple as a company feels the same way Ives does. After taking Samsung to court for copying the look and feel of iPhone devices, Apple ended up winning a $1.05 billion verdict, which was later reduced in half. Ironically enough, it's now Samsung that's pointing the finger at Apple over its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, which the South Korean handset maker considers a "big imitation" of its Galaxy Note products.