Wed, Jul 04, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Ultrabook makers should be wary of patent: ministry

By George Liao  /  Staff reporter

Ultrabook manufacturers and brand vendors should take precautionary measures to avoid infringing Apple Inc’s new US patent, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said yesterday.

The Apple patent — D661,296 — was issued on June 5 and broadly covers the distinctive wedge or teardrop profile of the US company’s MacBook Air notebook computers, Intellectual Property Office Director-General Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told reporters yesterday.

With design patents, drawings matter most of all because they define the enforceable protection of the patent, Wang said.

As usual, the patent coverage centers around the details of the solid lines in the drawings, and the dashed lines only define context, but not what is patented, she added.

Based on the Intellectual Property Office’s understanding, the Apple patent dashes out the unimportant details of the notebook computer, such as the contour of the lifting edge of the upper cover, the rear contour, hinge, side ports, feet and the ventilation holes on the bottom, and focuses on the overall wedge shape and look of the device with solid lines.

Judging from the patent, Apple says that a notebook with four cutaway corners, a thin wedge-like shape and an upper cover that has no ornamentation on its surface will infringe its patents, Wang said.

That means a notebook with hinges, feet or back shape different from the MacBook Air could still infringe the patent if the overall shape is substantially similar to the claimed profile, Wang said.

Apple is focusing on its patent war with Samsung Electronics Co, which involves its iPhones and iPads at the present time, Wang said.

However, Wang said that the Cupertino, California-based company could turn its attention to Ultrabooks once it puts the patent war with Samsung to rest.

Wang recommends that competitors take precautionary measures to prevent their notebooks from looking substantially similar to MacBook Air’s wedge or teardrop profile to avoid the risk of being sued by Apple.

Apple has been keen to fight patent wars around the world, Wang said.

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