Virtually Every Ultrabook Appears to Violate New Apple Patent
June 7, 2012 2:30 PM
The Ultrabook category could potentially be killed off or diminished by Apple lawsuits
: Apple's patent appears invalid due to prior art -- Sony Corp. (
) released a teardrop laptop in 2004, the Sony VAIO X505.]
Apple, Inc. (
) has brought
the smartphone market, with a
slew of lawsuits
which essentially seek to ban all of its top smartphone competitors products. According to Apple, all of its competitors are ripping off its technology.
Now Apple may be preparing to bring that same brand of litigious chaos to the world of personal computer, thanks to its victory in convinced the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
to allow it to patent the design of its
MacBook Air (MBA) case
. Apple was granted U.S. Design Patent
I. Nearly Every Ultrabook is in Violation
Very clever in its working, Apple's new intellectual property jewel is carefully crafted to place nearly every one of its competitors designs in violation, via making its claim very general and wide.
The patent covers claims exclusive ownership to thin teardrop/wedge-shaped notebook computers. At first glance many of its competitors Ultrabooks would appear to be in violation of this patent. In other words, with this patent, Apple appears to be well along the way to having the legal firepower necessary to obtain a ban all competitors lightweight laptops.
Samsung's Series 5 Ultrabook Convertible
ASUSTek Computer Inc.'s (
Acer, Inc.'s (
Aspire S7 Series
[Image Source: Pocket Lint]
Hewlet Packard Comp.'s (
Dell, Inc. (
II. Patenting Fundamental Physics
There's a reason why all of these laptops are teardrop and/or wedge shaped. Given the size of USB ports and the size necessary for the hinge, there's no real other possible design that would allow these laptops to achieve the kind of thiness and light weight that the Ultrabook spec demands.
Now one thought might be that the USPTO merely granted Apple a narrow patent on its MacBook Air design. But Apple's patent makes it explicitly clear that it's claiming a very wide exclusive rights to produce thin, wedge shaped laptops. It says that size, hinge design, etc. are irrelevant. It says that the back can have "any contour or shape" and still infringe.
Apple's patent is very tricking in its claim, designed to place nearly every ultrabook design on the market in infringement. [Image Source: USPTO via The Verge]
In other words, if the USPTO read the patent, they had to have recognized exactly how wide a design ownership they were granting Apple.
III. What's Next?
A couple important things to bear in mind. Apple hasn't sued anybody -- yet. But it now has the ammo to do so, and could potentially gain a monopoly on ultrathin notebooks, if it chooses to pursue lawsuits against all of its computer making rivals. HP has already
pledged to defend its design against potential litigation
Apple could be fearful of the damage to its reputation that requesting a ban on all rival Ultrabook designs might have. But it has shown little such fears in the smartphone market, so image may not be enough to convince Apple to avoid seeking bans.
Likewise, fundamental physics (hinge design) and universal standards (USB port size) seem to dictate no way around Apple's design, hence the patent seems highly questionable. But for better or worse the USPTO has decided that Apple should have it.
No one is questioning that Apple pioneered the Ultrathin category with its MacBook Air. While
launched not long after, it featured a more traditional flat design and hence was more constrained in size, weight, and specs. But the question is whether Apple gets to have a monopoly because it got their first and because the laws of physics (and standards) dictate few alternatives. That may be an issue that is pressed in court, if Apple's swelling legal team and history of looking to litigate rather than compete are any indication.
Update 1 June 7, 2012:
Well if Apple does sue anyone, it will have a tough case to make. Get a load of
Sony's VAIO X505
launched in 2004. Turns out Apple wasn't even the first to pioneer this market -- Sony was the first (to our knowledge) ultrathin maker.
Sony's design clearly is in violation of Apple's patent -- but it came first. That means Apple's appears highly likely to invalid. In a sense, its wideness -- a gambit to ensure everyone infringes, may prove its downfall.
[Image Source: Notebook Review]
[Image Source: Image Shack]
It should be interesting to see how this plays out, if this goes to court.
USPTO via SBNation [PDF]
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
Apple Looks to Kill Samsung's Galaxy S III and the Rest of Its Family
June 7, 2012, 2:08 PM
Lenovo, Samsung Join the Windows 8 Touch-PC Feeding Frenzy
June 5, 2012, 5:54 PM
ASUS Shows Off Windows 8 Desktop+Tablet TAICHI, New Transformer Tablets
June 4, 2012, 12:10 PM
Acer Embraces Windows 8 with New Tablets, Ultrabooks, and All-in-Ones
June 3, 2012, 11:29 PM
Game Over? Apple's Bid to Kill HTC Nears Fruition as ITC Blocks Imports
May 16, 2012, 11:35 AM
Nintendo Announced Next Game Machine to be Portable “handheld”.
October 21, 2016, 5:00 AM
Do you hate to do yard work?
October 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Smart Technology Mood Collar To Understand Your Dog’s Emotions
October 17, 2016, 5:00 AM
iBeat: A heart monitoring smartwatch that can save lives by Monique C. Bethell, Ph.D
October 8, 2016, 10:25 AM
How Difficult it is to Buy Electronics
October 7, 2016, 6:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Problems with Windows 10 – Update Now
October 15, 2016, 7:30 AM
End of the Road for the Audi R8 e-tron
October 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Is Razer Blade Stealth Laptop For You?
October 16, 2016, 5:00 AM
Bluetooth Saves Lives
October 16, 2016, 7:05 AM
IBM – Cloud Object Storage Cheaper than Amazon S3
October 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Nasa Flies Drones at Nevada Airport
Oct 21, 2016, 8:21 AM
T-Mobile Data Problems
Oct 20, 2016, 10:17 AM
Annoying Apple Watch Problems and How to Fix Them
Oct 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Your Mail May Soon Be Delivered By Robot
Oct 19, 2016, 9:34 AM
2018 Jeep Wrangler Prototype Sells At Junkyard
Oct 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Samsung Shines with Gold Edition Tablet
Oct 17, 2016, 9:24 AM
Tesla Hints Mysterious Product Debut for October 17th
Oct 16, 2016, 10:14 AM
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones on US flights
Oct 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Comcast Fined $2.3 Million For Unconfirmed Services Charged To Customers
Oct 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
“American singer / songwriter “Bob Dylan is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oct 13, 2016, 10:33 AM
Battery Defect in Medical Device
Oct 12, 2016, 5:00 AM
IBM Bolsters Social Services Sector With Technology Grants
Oct 11, 2016, 5:00 AM
Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate but US Still Toys With Skepticism
Oct 10, 2016, 5:00 AM
IMEX America Trade Show
Oct 9, 2016, 10:00 AM
Phone Wars – Google VS Samsung Free Gifts on Purchase
Oct 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Member of Parliament’s opposition car exploded in Tbilist capital of Georgia
Oct 5, 2016, 2:52 PM
US Government Cuts Cord On Internet Oversight
Oct 3, 2016, 10:34 AM
Are farm children less likely to have allergies and asthma in adulthood?
Sep 30, 2016, 5:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information