Wonderfully-named mobile phone manufacturer “GooPhone” has patented a very iPhone-like design in China, according to local gadget site GizChina.

The GooPhone i5 is a pre-emptive iPhone 5 knockoff apparently based on leaked product prototypes. It runs Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and according to GizChina, sports a 1.4 Ghz Tegra processor, one gigabyte of RAM, and a 4-inch “retina” display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels.

It bears some similarity to possible iPhone 5 concepts and leaked images.

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iPhone knockoffs in China are nothing new. But a pre-emptive patent in China of a design that just might be what Apple is releasing on September 12? That would be new.

Above: GooPhone’s existing iPhone 4S clone

Image Credit: GooPhone website

How likely it is to stand up in court is another question, particularly since GooPhone is a known cloner, with obvious iPhone 4S clones in the market and for sale today. In an American or European court, GooPhone wouldn’t stand a chance.

In China, who knows?

Apple has already been accused of copying the “iPad” name from a little-known company, ProView, in Shenzhen, China. After a lawsuit, Apple was forced to pay ProView $60 million — less than the $400 million the company was looking for, but a very nice little payoff for what seemed to be a fairly meritless case.

This seems even less aboveboard … but the court system in China may not be very friendly to foreign companies.

The GooPhone is planned for a late September launch.

Image credit: GizChina