Apple Wins MacBook Air Patent That Could Keep Ultrabooks Off The Shelves

Apple Wins MacBook Air Patent That Could Keep Ultrabooks Off The Shelves

The wedge design of the MacBook Air has been patented by Apple, meaning that the Cupertino company now owns the rights to “the distinctive wedge or teardrop profile” of the sexy notebook. Apple’s D296 patent means that the MacBook Air has solidified the tapered, wedge-like design for its class of computer.

Instead of focusing on concrete details, the new patent covers the general aesthetic of the MacBook Air’s design. Over the past year or so, dozens of laptops, dubbed “Ultrabooks,” have been copying the metallic look and feel of the Air. Could this new patent mean that Apple is setting its legal sights on Ultrabook competitors?

Apple Wins MacBook Air Patent That Could Keep Ultrabooks Off The Shelves

According to The Verge:

“In determining infringement, courts look at whether the allegedly infringing device and the design patent are substantially similar in overall appearance to an “ordinary observer,” excluding minor differences. You can see below how Apple has dashed out the unimportant details of the notebook, like the rear contour, hinge, side ports and feet, and instead focuses on the overall wedge shape and look of the device with solid lines. That’s the aesthetic Apple has patented here and a notebook with hinges, feet or a shaped back different than the MacBook Air could still be infringing as long as the rest — primarily the claimed wedge profile — is substantially similar.”

So Ultrabook makers like Lenovo, Dell, HP and Asus could all be potentially under fire. Apple has been aggressive with its mobile patents, and there’s no reason it won’t fight just as hard in the laptop market. Either that, or Ultrabooks could start looking less like Airs.

We’re sure that Apple is hoping for the latter.

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  • pitchblackpolo

    The test should be if you can slide it under a door to wedge it open, it’s in violation of patent.

  • lwdesign1

    Like Tim Cook said at the D10 conference, Apple shouldn’t be the designer for every other tech company. He spoke of painting a picture and then having someone else bring it out with their own signature on it. The copying of Apple products has become so common that it’s frightening to think that there seems to be so little other creativity in the world of personal electronics. The only bright note seems to be coming from, of all companies, Microsoft. At least their tablet has a significantly different interface and functionality from iOS.

    I applaud Apple for protecting their intellectual property. If others want to copy, they need to license the rights from Apple. Otherwise, let’s see some innovation and new ideas from other companies that don’t suck.
  • Shawn Hudgins

    I was going to say that this is way to much and no company should be awarded such an open ended patent. The thing is as I started writing my post every point I tried to make I could counter with an equally convensing argument. So I am left not sure. I will say that Apple design has always been above and beyond what other companies are doing. In my opinion this is a cost issue. We pay extra to have these Apple products, I like the idea of having equally beautiful products on the Windows side that others can afford to purchase. How we get there is the question.

  • trefethis

    YEAH, F*** INTEL CORPORATION FOR USING ULTRABOOK SUBSIDIES (600 MILLION DOLLARS) to push all of Apple’s competitors into COPYING APPLE.

    It is bizarre that Intel is paying everyone to attack a valued customer, Apple.
  • drblank

    I don’t want to sound weird, but didn’t Sony have a laptop with this type of wedge design years before Apple?

    I know Apple should do whatever they can to protect their designs since they are the ones paying lots of money in R&D, so yeah.  They should do what they can to protect them.
  • rogifan

    I don’t want to sound weird, but didn’t Sony have a laptop with this type of wedge design years before Apple?

    I know Apple should do whatever they can to protect their designs since they are the ones paying lots of money in R&D, so yeah.  They should do what they can to protect them.

    Sorry I don’t see where the Vaio and MacBook Air look alike at all. Besides there were wedge snapped computers before the Vaio. Heck the Apple II had a wedge design.

  • silentwill

    I was going to say that this is way to much and no company should be awarded such an open ended patent. The thing is as I started writing my post every point I tried to make I could counter with an equally convensing argument. So I am left not sure. I will say that Apple design has always been above and beyond what other companies are doing. In my opinion this is a cost issue. We pay extra to have these Apple products, I like the idea of having equally beautiful products on the Windows side that others can afford to purchase. How we get there is the question.

    Why am I not “convensed” with this argument?

  • Andrew John

    If blatant copying weren’t so rampant in the tech world, we wouldn’t have to read about patents being filed for what seems to be vague design ideas, but here we are. Patent suits haven’t been as high as they are now. Thanks to flagrant disregard to someones basic design standards, I’m afraid this will become the norm. Thank google and Samsung for pushing it this far. Assholes.

  • blk

    whats next apple patenting the color of their macbooks???

  • James Groom

    This is yet another example of a company crossing over the line.. For crying out loud it’s a friggin computer I love my iPhone but this is just a joke..

    I have the Asus Zenbook and i love it screw Apple for some piss poor excuse to try and cut out other company’s trying to stop them from putting out Ultrabooks..
  • Adrian Werner

    Is that only the fat to razor thin design? Because there have been hundreds of notebooks where the palm rest area is thinner than the are around hinge.

    Also..to news’s autor – Lenovo? WTF? Have you ever seen Lenovo ultrabook? It’s got a lot of acolades for being of of the few ultrabooks that do not look like Macbook Air rip-off and a major part of it was that it’s even through the whole laptop, without wedge design.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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