HAVING BEEN GIVEN the green light for a patent covering the wedge-like shape used in the body of the MacBook Air, litigation happy Apple may have been given the means to sue anyone with a similarly wedge-shaped notebook PC design.
The intellectual property spark that could ignite the entire PC market revolves around the fact that the patent is so broad that it could cover many different ultrabook designs, providing Apple with a lucrative field of potential targets for litigation that extends well beyond its current legal nemesis, Samsung, with whom the Cupertino-based company has been embroiled in a protected legal knife fight with for some time.
The patent essentially covers a wedge-shaped design, but because a wedge-like shape is commonly used for ultrabook PCs by most manufacturers, these are especially vulnerable even though it could be argued that most ultrabooks are otherwise significantly different from the MacBook Air.
The multi-billion dollar question is will Apple sue, and if so, who would it target? There is a high likelihood that the risk of PR fallout could see Apple being somewhat reluctant to press its advantage in the patent stakes, as doing do could mean tarnishing its hard-won brand equity.
Thanks to incredibly innovative gadget goodies such as the MacBook Air, the iPad and iPhone, Apple may be the current darling of the consumer electronic market, but you have to wonder just how quickly sentiment could turn if the company was to launch a litigation broadside aimed at ultrabook makers.
Will this happen? Only time will tell. Here’s hoping it doesn’t as the only real winners likely to emerge out of this patently legal train-wreck will be lawyers. PAT PILCHER