Question regarding Product Duplication

So, this is just a question and this isn’t pertaining to any legal case including me, and I most definitely do not expect legal advice.

Someone is making iPhone 4 cases. Their method of creation is buying generic, pre-made phone case with a clear backing and then using adhesive to bind printed fabric to the inside of the clear backing of the case.

They did not create the cases and they did not design, weave, and produce the fabric. They bought both items separate and combine them to make the final product.

They do not own a patent on the designs, though their website states “Patent Pending”. They have states they are attempting to patent the process of making the cases.

Now, would they be able to stop other people from buying identical blank phone cases from the same source as them, then buying fabric with different prints on it and making similar phone cases?

The only difference between their cases and someone elses would be the print of the fabric.

Is this legal? Or do they have the right to stop anyone from gluing printed fabric to the back of a case and selling it?

For reference, they are NOT the first to do this, they are just the ones who got popular for it by chance. Does this affect their rights to the phone cases?
Just looking for opinions mainly as I am interested why someone would think they can claim ownership for something they did not originally conceive and something that is just a combination of premanufactured items available to anyone on the market.
Cheers!

Isn’t the iPhone itself just a collection of premanufactured chips, batteries, and screens and such put together by Apple? So Apple would go after anyone buying the same chips and making a pink “myPhone”?

I’m not sure. I think the thing preventing most people from making a custom iPhone is contracts rather than legality. I’m sure Apple has component exclusivity contracts with their manufacturers.

That and the OS, the OS is definitely proprietary and you’d get in big trouble for that.

Edit: Another comparison that could be made is making DVDs. Could a company sue somebody for “gluing their own pattern” (burning their own movie) onto a blank DVD and selling it, just because they distribute movies burned onto DVD?

But what about the phone cases I described? Can someone claim ownership of fabric glued to the back of a case? They were not first to do it even.

Edit: Just saw your edit. Good comparison.

If the idea isn’t patented, it isn’t protected.
If it’s patented, then there must have been something significant about the idea/design/process that the PTO thought was unique enough to qualify for protection.
ETA: note that “trade dress” (how a product looks) is patentable, and Apple has sued and won many times to protect their “look and feel.”

You can get design patents for trivial things. It prevents someone from making an exact duplicate of your design. It wouldn’t mean in this case that no one else could glue fabric to the back of a case, just that they couldn’t do it the same way.

By do it in the same way, do you mean the same process? Could someone still glue fabric as long as they didn’t use the exact same prints they are using?

By receiving a design patent does it protect just the specific prints they HAVE used, or all similar styled prints as well?

I always thought patents couldn’t be given for “obvious” or “trivial” processes. Gluing a bit of fabric to a bit of plastic strikes me as rather obvious, unless they have some super-secret gluing technique.

I couldn’t tell you for sure what would be allowed in this case. Nothing would stop them from applying for a patent and claiming patent pending for their product.

I couldn’t figure out the right way to describe a design patent, but that link should do it. The fact that it’s ornamental is the key, and that would be what’s going on with a phone case pocket. I couldn’t tell you how far that patent would go in covering a pocket on a phone case.