Apple Lawsuit Alleges Power Adapter Patent Infringement

| News

Apple is suing a company called Media Solutions Holdings, alleging the company is infringing on Apple patents in making its own line of power adapters that work with Apple laptops. According to an InformationWeek report, the lawsuit said, "Through various Web sites and otherwise, the Defendants market these knock-off power adapters for use with Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook."

The suit specifically mentions three sites, laptopsforless.com, laptopacadapter.com, and ereplacements.com as places where Media Solutions Holdings markets, "various consumer electronic accessories at retail, including knock-off power adapters for use with genuine Apple portable computers."

While that may not sound like Media Solutions Holdings is doing anything wrong, Apple's lawsuit argues that the company's power adapters are knockoffs that directly violate an Apple patent that is fittingly called "Power Adapter."

For instance, laptopsforless.com offers the "Apple MacBook Pro Adapter (100% OEM Compatible)", as seen in the screenshot from the company's site below.

Knockoff Adapter
Apple-compatible power adapter, as offered on laptopsforless.com

Apple's patent includes design images of its adapter, as noted in the image below.

Power Adapter Patent Pic
Image from Apple's Power Adapter patent

Apple doesn't specify damages in its suit, but the company is seeking an injunction against Media Solutions Holdings preventing the company from selling the adapters.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

Sakmaniac

This is why Apple patented the mag-safe adapter. To prevent 3rd party companies from selling lower priced compatible hardware. When one of my power adapters for a G3 iBook went bad, I could pick up a 3rd party solution for around $30 instead of $70 for Apple’s. No more. Thanks!

geoduck

It’s just so weird the see ‘Apple’ and ‘Lawsuit’ in the same headline and NOT have it be someone suing Apple.

zewazir

This is why Apple patented the mag-safe adapter. To prevent 3rd party companies from selling lower priced compatible hardware. When one of my power adapters for a G3 iBook went bad, I could pick up a 3rd party solution for around $30 instead of $70 for Apple?s. No more. Thanks!

Ummm, if it were simply a matter of providing a compatible adapter, you’d have a point.  But when the 3rd party copies millimeter by millimeter the exact shape, style, format, etc., even the plug exchangeable for a cord, then Apple has the point.

I have purchased many 3rd party adapters for Apple laptops.  This is the first 3rd party adapter I cannot tell without reading the fine whether it is 3rd party or not.

zewazir

It?s just so weird the see ?Apple? and ?Lawsuit? in the same headline and NOT have it be someone suing Apple.

Hey, Apple sued PsyStar. :D

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So, let’s have a review zewazir… Good power adaptor? If so, I should probably buy 2. I’ll save money and collect bonus points for sticking it to Apple for making failure-prone power adaptors a profit center. Of course, that is what they are doing. Why waste the money in court if it you don’t think the competition eats into your revenues and profits?

geoduck

making failure-prone power adaptors

What?
I’ve got two of this model of Apple Adaptor and not had any trouble.
For that matter I’ve had a series of PowerBooks and iBooks before that and not had a Power Adaptor failure.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Right. I didn’t tell you that I have abused mine by using them to hang laundry and tie turkey legs together so the stuffing doesn’t fall out during cooking.

Please, saying “I don’t have the problem, therefore it isn’t one” is so not the Macintosh Way.

geoduck

I have followed the Mac Press. There have been a FEW reports of cable failure at the MagSafe strain relief. From what I’ve read these seem to be due to abuse (never yank a cord to remove a plug). Other than that they seem to be reliable. Certainly no better or worse than the industry standard. Certainly not ‘failure-prone’.

Lee Dronick

For that matter I?ve had a series of PowerBooks and iBooks before that and not had a Power Adaptor failure.

I had one iBook power adaptor go bad, cracked insulation where it folded/bent when coiling. However, it did have a lot of miles on it so I can’t fault Apple in that case.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Great. Here is some an anecdotal case for you. I have had 2 fail where the cord meets the brick. You have to jiggle the cord down by the brick to get power. It’s a very unsafe failure.

After the first one, I was always very careful not to bend the end that goes into the brick sharply when wrapping around the prongs. The second one lasted about as long and ended up with the same failure. You know, the prongs that are an important element of Apple’s treasured design patent… For both, I’ve been told that Apple would likely give me a replacement if I make a Genius Bar appointment. Fair enough, except my billed time and spare time is worth far more than $80 for tying up an afternoon to get an appointment and get down there.

Don’t even get me started on the wording of this compaint… “including knock-off power adapters for use with genuine Apple portable computers…” They’re frigging kidding, right? Apple Legal has just invented the new sport of tiny dick waving. Give them a gold medal and a tiny blue ribbon to tie around it. They sure are proud.

geoduck

I do have to say that I agree with you Bosco. I would really like to see Apple License the MagSafe adaptor. It’s a good technology and I wish there were aftermarket options.

As far as your failures, I have to admit that I’ve not used the prongs. After about a week they just struck me as too tight and somewhat hard on the cable. I just do a loose coil and stuff it in my bag. That may very well account for the difference.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’ve concluded that the prongs are a subscription sales device. They are quite convenient!

zewazir

Great. Here is some an anecdotal case for you. I have had 2 fail where the cord meets the brick. You have to jiggle the cord down by the brick to get power. It?s a very unsafe failure.

So your experience is supposed to trump the fact that very few others have reported significant difficulties with the MagSafe adapter? And from that you continue to build your “Apple is out to screw it customers” conspiracy theory. Get over yourself. You are not the center of the universe.  If Apple is such a bad deal for you, buy Dell.  I hear there are lots of very good Black Friday deals on Dell products.

We have over 500 MacBook and MacBook Pros in the school district. We have had 3 MagSafe adaper failures, all of which were do to accidents damaging the cable. Frankly we have had more problmes with the MagSafe ports in the computers than with the adapters. So don’t expect me to get all up in arms when you screw up two of them. Using them for a clothes line is not a very good idea, even if it isn’t included in their list of Don’t Dos.

Apple has licensed their adapters before, and there is no reason to expect them to not license the MagSafe adapter. In fact, it is entirely posible they DID license it, but not to the extreme the copies (and I do mean COPIES) have been taken.  You can find a 3rd party adapter for every protable mac ever made.  NONE of them look exactly like Apple’s design.  This one does, right down to every detail available from online images I have looked at.  You look at the copies, and an image of an Apple MagSafe, and you cannot tell them apart.

So tell me, do you think it is OK for a 3rd party company to copy the design from Apple (or anyone else) in every detail? HAve you seen images of teh 3rd party adapter?  Can you tell it from Apple’s? Personally, I do not think copying someone else’s design is in any way OK.  There are 10,000+ possible designs for an adapter that would still be compatible with the MagSafe design. Why copy Apple’s exactly - except out of sheer unadulterated cheap-assed laziness.

geoduck

We have over 500 MacBook and MacBook Pros in the school district. We have had 3 MagSafe adaper failures, all of which were do to accidents damaging the cable.

Out of curiosity do most of your users coil the cord on the adaptor prongs?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s a common enough problem that Apple has had a quiet “replace it if they come to the Genius Bar” policy on it.

Design patents are terrible policy. The InformationWeek article points out that Apple is a member of an industry group that is lobbying strongly against these things. There is a very big difference between counterfeiting and violating a design patent. Apple is not alleging counterfeiting here. If the adaptors had the Apple logo embossed and/or weren’t presented for sale as OEM compatible, you’d have a point.

I’ll continue to point out where I think Apple as a company is acting like a giant ass. There are more frequent cases that support a conclusion that this company is not your friend. It is out to take a steep premium from you for being in its special little club. It’s funny how so many of the 7% or so that use Macs have more than their money invested, and can’t call a spade a spade when Apple screws up.

zewazir

Out of curiosity do most of your users coil the cord on the adaptor prongs?

Yes, they do. In fact I do it for them the first time. Never had a problem from doing that, though I can see the potential for pulling the cable too tight if you wind it up in too much of a hurry.

zewazir

I?ll continue to point out where I think Apple as a company is acting like a giant ass.

It has become quite apparent where you feel Apple is “acting like a big ass”.  Anytime they do not conform to your vision of some perfect world in which you get any damned thing you think you are entitled to for no cost.

And of COURSE you think design patents are “bad policy”  It has been very apparent to everyone hear you think people should have every right to steal the ideas of others and sell them - as if that is “fair” competition. Yea, let the others put in the time, money, and effort to develop an idea, but from that point on it’s free to take and sell by everyone else. I can only guess that attitude comes from people who never have an original idea of their own.

I doubt anyone here won’t call Apple out when they are, in reality (as opposed to your entitlist egocentric opinion) acting like an ass. Note the hue and cry with the iPhone App approval policy. And that is, by far, not the only time I’ve seen strng sentiment here over an Apple product and/or policy.

As for being my “friend” - businesses are not there to be your “friend”.  They are there to sell a product and make a profit doing so. They do not exist to conform their policies and prices to every twit with an attitude of entitlement comes along.

People pay a premium price for products they have determined to be worth the premium price. This is true for every market you care to name, from cars to computers to hair dye. Others who do not think the item is worth the price asked do not purchase it, and choose an item of lesser price from a competitor. Everyone is that way.  Only entitlist twits whine like little babies about it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Let’s all have a round of applause for zezawir, the second member of the King Tut Fanboy club. Can’t argue the point, resorts to name calling, Apple can do no wrong. Member!

On design patents… I’m just parroting the official Apple position, as gleaned from the lobbying they support. On one hand, they lobby (correctly) to end that madness. On the other, they sue someone for infringing on a design patent. And the IP absolutists who think an “idea” deserves ownership come out and sing.

Also, I especially like the (new, improved) Macintosh Way. Blame the user. It’s probably how 12-year old King Tut did things in his day.

Happy Thanksgiving all. Be thankful that you’ll have lots of King Tuts to amuse you in the coming year.

zewazir

Can?t argue the point, resorts to name calling

Says the one who has a special name for those he disagrees with. Not only a thief at heart, but a hypocrite to boot.

Yes, thief. Copying someone’s ideas and making money off the copy is nothing less than outright theft. Supporting the legal right to do so is supporting outright theft.

IF (and you have provided nothing to back your claims) Apple is trying to diminish design protections, then they are in the same boat as others who want the right to steal the ideas of others - selfish thieves who want to ride the coat tails of original thinkers. But frankly I think you are blowing purple colored smoke. (ie: a flat out lying) Apple would have far more to lose than to gain if design patents are weakened. Imagine a whole bunch of laptops, smart phones and MP3 players directly mimicking MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPod.  There is no WAY Apple wants to weaken design patent laws when much of their reputation is built on originality of design.

Original ideas, including designs, should have the right to be protected. It encourages honest competition where businesses compete to come out with the most popular design for their products. This kind of system benefits the the consumer as businesses strive to come out with the both best they can produce at one end, and the best compromise between affordability and quality at the other end.

The alternative is a system which would result in a few real innovators and a whole bunch of copy cats, where the competition is focused purely on price, and whomever cuts the most corners gets the best price. Innovators, having the greater costs, would lose out eventually, and then we’d having nothing left but trash copying more trash.

Why SHOULD copying be rewarded? Because it brings out cheaper prices since the mimickers can avoid the necessity of paying for good design and development teams? How is it fair competition to rely on the expenses of another company to create the design, and all you have to do is copy it? But I don’t think you give two plugs about fair competition.  All you want is cheap.

If you want cheap, then go ahead and buy cheap.  But don’t think you should be able to get quality and originality for cheap. You get what you pay for. Honest people who want originality will pay premium for originality.  People who want cheap don’t get originality, they get cheap.  That’s the way the world is, and the way it should be.

Then there are those who reluctantly pay the premium and whine like spoiled toddlers about it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Yes, thief. Copying someone?s ideas and making money off the copy is nothing less than outright theft. Supporting the legal right to do so is supporting outright theft.

Wrong. Ownership of ideas goes completely against the spirit of patent, copyright, and trademark laws. The state grants property rights in the implementation and expression of ideas, but not the ideas themselves. When a party “infringes” on a patent, it’s called “infringement”, not “theft”. Some common critiques of the patent system are: (1) it grants monopolies to trivial inventions and broad, unoriginal designs, (2) it has become almost unavoidable to avoid infringement because so many patents are issued, (3) there is no challenging of claims before parties confront each other in court, and (4) patent practitioners routinely attempt to protect as close to an “idea” as they can, e.g. business method patents like Amazon’s one-click.

There are a range of issues which a court will have to decide and side with Apple before concluding that Media Solutions Holdings infringed on Apple’s design patent. Who knows if this case will be seen by some groups as “bullying” and attract the attention and money that might give Apple a black eye even if it prevails.

Compare this case to Microsoft being sued for disabling third party memory expansion for XBox. While the legal mechanism is opposite, the market rationale for restriction and litigation is very similar. Few people will take the side that Microsoft isn’t being a giant douche with its policy. Perhaps Apple is a saintly enough brand now that it won’t be seen the same way. But it should. The effect is the same. Under the way Apple and Microsoft want to control a market for a commodity component that works with their device, customers pay more.

I’ll conclude by offering a short video example of how people in the real world deal with competition effectively. You know, when they get over the mistaken notion that they can actually own ideas. This is the best 1 minute tutorial I’ve run across on how to be classy and effective in idea-space. What do you do when a former employee sets up a shop to compete against you?

zewazir

Call it what ever you want. A skunk by any other name still stinks. Functionally it is theft because you are taking what another paid for (design and development is not cheap) and selling it as your own.  Copying the ideas of another is the action of a lazy thief who cannot come up with their own ideas. Functionally and morally it is no different than stealing someone’s television out of their living room and selling ti at the local fence. Defending the legality of such actions is the actions of whiny entitlist twits who want top design, but are too cheap to pay for it.

Once again, there are literally thousands of designs one could come up with and still result in a 3rd party power adapter that is compatible with Apple’s MagSafe adapter. The fact that this company did nothing more than copy everything except the apple logo is why Apple is going after them. The fact that they were too lazy to so much as put the innards in a different shaped box is why Apple is complaining - and rightly so.

Your Microsoft case does not parallel Apple’s case, so is irrelevant.  Apple did not disable anyone’s ability to produce a 3rd party adapter.  What they have done is file a complaint against a company that blatantly copied Apple’s adapter. There is a significant difference between offering a 3rd party alternative, and blatantly copying the original and offering it as the alternative.  Would you support a start up company’s smartphone that copies Apple’s iPhone in every detail?

Come to think of it, you probably would. I pity our economy if your type ever gains power for your “copy everything, it’s cheaper that way” philosophy. Innovation would go right out the window, along with advances in consumer technology.

And your little clip was about a SALES company being started to compete with a sales company.  So what? The only place for complaint was the employee was working on their company while still working for the company that inspired them. (And it was unclear whether the accusation included the employee working on their own company while on the clock.  Nothing is mentioned about the employee copying a sales slogan or sales campaign and calling it their own.

If an Apple employee were to start up a smartphone company, more power to them, UNLESS they copy Apple’s designs and try to sell it as their own. If they take their own ideas that sprang to mind while working for Apple, and incorporate them into their own smart phone design, (as long as they did not get paid by Apple for developing their ideas) then THAT is what REAL competition is really about, and the type of competition I fully and heartily endorse.  Competition is about coming out with the BETTER products by using one’s own ideas, not about stealing product design and selling it for less.

zewazir

BTW: do you have support for your statement that Apple is actively trying to weaken design patent laws, or were you blowing purple smoke?

geoduck

The fact that they were too lazy to so much as put the innards in a different shaped box

I would question the use of the word lazy.
They worked very hard to copy the design exactly. The lazy way out would have been to use some generic box. For that reason I think they are in fact trying to pass their product off as ‘genuine Apple’. I’ve seen this with iPod clones for example. They may have their own logo on the side but they hope that at least a few percentage of customers won’t look closely enough to notice. This is deceitful and would if allowed to continue unchecked erode the Apple brand and reputation for quality.

zewazir

Another BTW:

Ownership of ideas goes completely against the spirit of patent, copyright, and trademark laws.

That is easily a prime contender for the “top ten” of most ignorant statements ever written. Patent, copyright and trademark laws CENTRAL purpose is to defend ownership of original ideas. That’s why an idea has to be original or you cannot patent, copyright, or trademark it. If you blatantly copy something, the patent office will laugh you right out of the building. Try to copyright someone else’s song and see how far you get. Try to copy Pepsi Cola’s trade mark and use it as your trademark for your soft drink, and see what happens when Pepsi takes your sorry butt to court.

“Against the spirit of patent….”  what drugs are you on, anyway?

zewazir

They worked very hard to copy the design exactly. The lazy way out would have been to use some generic box.

I must disagree with that premise.  Now I do agree the purpose is most likely to pass theirs of as “genuine Apple”, but it is, in no way, “hard work” to copy someone else’s design.  Buy one, take it apart, make a mold of the case and fill in the Apple. Create a set of injection molds from the Order the same parts used in the original and stuff them in the cloned box. No brain sweat or effort at all involved with that. Creating a different box with the same features would involve significantly more effort. Even designing your own components to match the output requirements and sticking them in a plain jane box with no features takes more effort than copying.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

That is easily a prime contender for the ?top ten? of most ignorant statements ever written. Patent, copyright and trademark laws CENTRAL purpose is to defend ownership of original ideas.

Wrong. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 (the copyright clause) of the Constitution:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

No right to ideas here, just writings and discoveries, i.e. actual expressions or implementations. Perhaps English is your second language and you don’t understand that an idea is distinct from an expression or implementation of an idea? I’m trying to be charitable here about your misunderstanding, but I have a feeling you really think an idea can be patented, copyrighted, trademarked. Despite the late night commercials you might watch that suggest you “patent your idea and submit it to industry”, that’s not how patents work.

I can certainly see how if you think there is a property right in ideas, then everyone would look like an immoral thief to you. Like if I thought horses were made of chocolate, I’d be shoulder deep in manure.

zewazir

What is the design of a power adapter if not the “implementation of an idea”? Where does an invention COME from if not from someone’s ideas? Your argument is complete nonsense. Of course an unrealized idea is non-patentable. If I carry around for my entire life the concept for a novel, I cannot copyright it. I have to write it down.

But unimplemented ideas are not what we are talking about with Apple’s MagSafe adapter design are we? Apple’s design for their adapter is, quite plainly, and IMPLEMENTED idea. We ever talking about mere thought of ideas, you just take this ridiculous tack because of your stupidity in claiming protecting peoples ideas is “contrary to the spirit” of patent law.

The patented design of a device is the product of an original idea. If there is no original IDEA behind the design, no patent will be issued. And while the mere concept of a device cannot be patented, the design of a device CAN be patented without the need to actually construct the device. As such, the IDEA of a device (ie: it’s specific design) CAN be patented. All you need to patent a device is a complete and accurate description of the device itself, a description of what the device is supposed to do, a complete description of the construction process “as to enable any person skilled in the art or science to which the invention pertains to make and use the same.”*

The fact is, as is easily determined from the images provided, Media Solutions Holdings has directly copied Apple design for their MagSafe adapter. The fact is Media Solutions Holdings could have designed a compatible adapter without making their a direct ripoff.  The fact is DESIGN is as much the IMPLEMENTATION of an idea as is the physical construction. For that matter, design is an inseparable part of the construction process.  You can’t build something unless you have a design to follow.  As such, design IS part of the invention, and is therefore part of the patent. People who wish to copy someone’s design are stealing that design. (and the idea behind it, but to keep you happy and stay away from a battle of semantics, I’ll stick with the word design.) People who advocate the right to steal designs of others are no better than the thieves who do so.

zewazir

Note: the italicized quote comes from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

First, turn off the moral outrage. The InformationWeek article points out that Apple is involved in 15 or so patent lawsuits this year, and all but this one are as a defendant. So saintly Apple seems to have a problem with respecting patent rights and not copying others’ work too.

Second, you forgot the requirements that a patent has to be non-trivial and original. You also forgot that courts and legislatures have carved out areas where design patents are not enforceable, particularly in the realm of OEM replacement parts for automobiles. This is why, for example, when you get in a wreck, a body shop can by an aftermarket quarterpanel or windshield typically at lower price and greater availability than purchasing from the automobile’s manufacturer.

Third, as a though experiment, consider the requirements of a third party brick that wanted to be compatible. You need MagSafe at one end and you need the modular plug/extension receiver at the other. Look at the contour of the extension. If it doesn’t fit exactly into the brick, it might become a minor safety hazard. Long time PowerBook/MacBook customers might have a collection of stub plugs and extensions that fit that particular modular design. To keep the utility of those when buying a replacement brick or an additional brick, they would have to buy Apple’s if only Apple could make a brick shaped in such a way that that receiver fits correctly and does not pose a safety hazard at the edges.

I don’t know what MSH will do. A cursory Google search finds these products delisted. Perhaps they are just going to tuck tail and settle. But if they did defend themselves from this infringement lawsuit, which they have every right to do as vigorously as they can afford to do, expect that they would review whether indeed the design is patentable, whether there was an prior art, whether the patent process was done correctly, perhaps even whether from a public policy perspective, OEM-spec’d replacement computer parts are similar enough to OEM-spec’d replacement automotive parts to warrant more scrutiny over enforceability of the patents.

But the point is that this is a process. If this company is really eating into Apple’s business enough that Apple has to deal with them, perhaps that tells you something negative about Apple’s prices and or quality. If Apple is throwing its weight around because it can, perhaps that tells you something negative about Apple’s priorities. Like with Psystar, I see no upside to this. All the public action does is draw attention to some weak spot Apple has and opportunity for others to exploit it. That’s the point you failed to grasp with that video I linked to. Long term, these could both prove to be bad moves.

Intruder

The only requirement to be “Mac compatible” is to be of the proper voltage, wattage and have the MagSafe plug. The brick shape and the cord prongs contribute precisely nothing to being compatible. What MSH did was copy as closely as possible the Apple adapter. If they did not license the use of the MagSafe connector, they are in violation of patent number 5311526.

The example of aftermarket quarter panels is not relevant, because the quarter panel must be of a particular size and shape in order to fit on the car. In the case of the MSH power supply, the only interface with the computer is the adapter, thus it must be the same size, shape and connection method as the original Apple connector. All the rest could look like a stuffed teddy bear and it wouldn’t affect the compatibility. There is also no requirement for the modular plug/receiver on the power supply in order to be “compatible”. Any generic power brick with a MagSafe would have worked.

geoduck

All the rest could look like a stuffed teddy bear and it wouldn?t affect the compatibility.

That’s why I questioned the use of Lazy. They worked really hard to copy the exact look, shape, and material of the OEM part. that wasn’t the easy way out. It was a lot more work to do that than take an off the shelf brick and change the plug. They are trying to deceive.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Intruder… So what about all the extra extension cords I have that plug into the brick? Nobody should be allowed to make something with an interface that is compatible with those? So if I as a consumer want to continue to use those parts, it’s Apple’s way (and price) or the highway. How is any public interest served by that rent-seeking arrangement?

All the issues about whether it was infringement or not aside (I’ll grant that you’re all correct and that a court would likely agree), what is the net effect of enforcement here? The net effect is that MacBook users who need a replacement or additional power brick pay Apple’s price. We just bend over, grab our knees and let Apple pull money out of our butts. It does not appear that this company was selling bricks similar to Apple’s design for other computer brands. MagSafe pretty much makes that an impossibility.

And the point just made about trying to deceive. You assume consumers are stupid. Obviously, they aren’t if they can find something that looks similar to the original but doesn’t include the ridiculous Apple markup, and this ends up on Apple’s radar screen.

Intruder

@Bosco… They could have made an interface that allows the use of those extension cords and plugs without completely duplicating the brick’s design. Or you could not use those disposable parts. I don’t recall seeing anywhere a rule that says “thou shalt be able to reuse everything you have.”

You may not like it, but Apple is well within their rights to protect (or at least attempt to protect) their designs and patents within the scope of the current laws. Until those laws change, which I don’t foresee happening in the near future, “it is what it is” as they say.

What really needs to happen is a standard computer power connection needs to be implemented and everybody uses that.

zewazir

Of course I did not go into every detail about the patent process, though I own a couple of patents (didn’t work out - manufacturing costs exceeded what I could reasonably price them at), so I am not unfamiliar with the process or the requirements.

But lets go ahead and examine the details. First, which I did cover, is it has to be ORIGINAL. And what makes a design ORIGINAL except the IDEA behind it? Maybe ideas are not directly patentable as they have to result in a design specific enough to actually describe the construction process in a manner that someone with reasonable knowledge can build one from the description. But the net effect is the patent, which covers the design, also covers the idea behind it.  You can play semantic games all year long and you’d still be wrong.  Design is covered.

Intruder already covered your logical fallacy of comparing an adapter to automotive body parts. As for the rest, a 3rd party adapter does not even need to have a removable outlet plug, let alone be manufactured to accept Apple’s outlet plug.

And of course you must once again attack Apple’s pricing structure. But your whining continues to completely ignore the fact that Apple has to PAY for the design teams that came up with the size, shape, and form of the MagSafe adapter. If you think allowing people to copy that design (thus avoiding the costs of developing a workable design) and thereby undercutting Apple’s price is the FAULT of Apple’s price structure, then you really do have a problem with the realities of free market competition.  Stealing is NOT competition - it is stealing.

Also, it is not about MSH taking Apple sales of replacement adapters. Apple has allowed 3rd party Mac compatible adapters for every portable since the PowerBook 100, without complaint. So why not let that whiny lie rest for once? What it IS about is illegally copying Apple’s design.

If Apple violates a patent protection, then they deserve to pay for their actions. It has happened on more than one occasion, and has cost Apple several millions of dollars, and rightly so. On other occasions the claims of infringement are tossed as insubstantiated for a variety of reason from Apple’s design being different enough to be considered original to the claimant lying about when and how they obtained their patent.  But it does not matter, since the “they do it too” defense for wrong actions is as lame as they come. People usually stop using that argument by the time they hit 6th grade. It is quite common amongst kindergartners, though.

All you see is negative about Apple defending against Macintosh clones and direct copy of their MagSafe adapter because you see nothing negative in the theft of a patented design.  You think stealing someone else’s design - thereby avoiding the costs of developing an original design, and using that advantage to undercut the originators prices - to be perfectly acceptable “competition”. Fortunately for businesses - and their clients world wide, your concepts of patent design are not how things work.

zewazir

What really needs to happen is a standard computer power connection needs to be implemented and everybody uses that.

If they implemented that 5 years ago it is highly unlikely that MagSafe - which is really quite a good concept - would ever have been developed. While there are many advantages with limited cross-industry standardization, too much or unnecessary standardization severely interferes with advancements or innovation in design.

Intruder

Interestingly, these adapters appear to no longer be available on the sites listed in the article.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ok, all of you IANALs who think the distinction between “idea” and “implementation” is a semantic issue. Two articles for you, found easily with Google:

Can You Patent an Idea?

Can Ideas Be Protected or Patented?

Later today, we will work on the difference between stealing and infringing. This has been your Black Friday morning edition of “Hooked on English”.

geoduck

This has been your Black Friday morning edition of ?Hooked on English?.

As Arthur Dietrich (Barney Miller) said
“Hey, Semantics is my life”

Intruder

Ok, all of you IANALs who think the distinction between ?idea? and ?implementation? is a semantic issue. Two articles for you, found easily with Google:

Not sure how this is relevant to the article. Apple clearly has an implementation of their idea. It is called the Apple MagSafe power supply. They are protecting their PATENTED product from unauthorized duplication.

zewazir

Not sure how this is relevant to the article. Apple clearly has an implementation of their idea. It is called the Apple MagSafe power supply. They are protecting their PATENTED product from unauthorized duplication.

I already pointed that out.  He doesn’t care, because he lost on the issue, so he want to play semantics.

zewazir

Can You Patent an Idea?

For those who have a difficult time with reading comprehension, the matter of whether an idea - by itself - can be patented has already been acknowledged.

What is being discussed is the FACT that the company being sued directly and obviously COPIED a patented DESIGN. So much for the “can’t patent ideas” arguments, since we are talking about a patent.  Too bad for the whiners on this one. No cheap copies for you - though you will probably be able to purchase a cheap compatible in the near future, made by someone who doesn’t try to directly rip off Apple’s design.

Apple is not being the big bad boogie man stomping on the competition in this particular case. They are, quite correctly, defending the design they paid to develop into a product.

What is also being discussed is what copyright infringement, legally and morally, entails.  It is the theft of the design which another company paid to develop. It does not matter one tiny little whit that the law labels such actions “infringement” as opposed to “theft”.  Legal terms are invented to describe specific circumstances of a crime as well as the type of crime. That is why they have several differing terms to describe the unlawful taking of a human life. They also have different terms for theft, such as burglary or robbery, which differentiates between the methods used.  Copyright infringement is simply another way of differentiating what type of theft has taken place, as well as indicating whether it is a criminal or civil violation.

Like I said before, call it what you will.  You can call a skunk “flower” and it’ll still stink.  And you can call copying someone’s patented design “infringement.  It is still theft.

Lee Dronick

though you will probably be able to purchase a cheap compatible in the near future, made by someone who doesn?t try to directly rip off Apple?s design.

You can get a 3rd party power supply from NewEgg. The “current” price is $59

zewazir

You can get a 3rd party power supply from NewEgg. The ?current? price is $59

This is the one currently being challenged by Apple. Note that it is, quite obviously, a direct copy of Apple’s design, as opposed to being a compatible unit with its own design.

You can find 3rd party adapters for any of Apples laptops.  But none except this one can be confused with Apple’s original adapters.

Voice

Ok, everybody.  Before you all get your panties in a twist over the word ‘patent’ in this story, pay attention.

This isn’t a typical ‘patent’.  This is a ‘design patent’.  Design patents are the physical-object equivalent of copyright.  They specifically cover the visual aspects of the object, not the functionality.  They are valid for shorter times than a normal patent (and much shorter than copyrights), and don’t cover *functionality* at all.  They’re similar to ‘trade dress’.

Design patents exist for the same reason as trademarks.  They protect a company’s (or individual’s) ability to provide a distinctive, readily recognizable presence in the market place without fear that someone will come along and pretend to be them.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Point of clarification… A reviewer at the NewEgg site writes:

Cons: The design is the same as the stock Apple adapter, with the plug detachable from the brick, but there’s no extra cord to keep the brick away from the outlet. You can use an Apple cord, but the part that connects to the brick is a slightly different size, which looks silly.

It sounds as if above contentions that the manufacturer basically took a mold of the Apple brick and then made direct copies are incorrect. It will be interesting to see if/how this company challenges the validity of Apple’s patents in court—which is, for those of you (cough, zewazir) who don’t seem to have any clue about the way patent law works, the first procedural opportunity they have to challenge those claims.

If you want to know Apple’s Mac business model in a nutshell, this case tells you a lot. They take a collection of premium components, protect each piece with IP claims, only sell as a whole and/or make the components comparatively expensive. What that will tend to do is invite competition at the component level, where potential competitors think they can undercut Apple on price of one of the components of a Macintosh system. Psystar and MSH are flip sides of the same coin. Apple has to defend its market and markup in court, not in the market. When the would-be component competitors are small fish, Apple probably wins eventually, or at least makes it expensive for them to survive.

But lets say Amazon took an interest in power adaptors, as they have with HDMI cables. They want to ship quality Amazon branded goods at prices that better reflect the commodity nature of the devices. If Apple got into a pissing match with Amazon over a design patent, Amazon retaliates with whatever is in its patent arsenal, and eventually, the companies agree not to get each other wet. In other words, if Apple is going to ensure its pricing structure via IP, it is one battle with a big fish away from not having that card to play. Or it’s one skirmish gone bad in court with a little fish from the same result. Or maybe it just gets a reputation for writing nasty letters and suing people. If an IT manager told me he wouldn’t by MacBooks because he’d be locked into Apple for replacement batteries and power adaptors, I couldn’t argue with him.

geoduck

They take a collection of premium components, protect each piece with IP claims, only sell as a whole and/or make the components comparatively expensive.

And your point is what?
Though I think how you’ve put it somewhat harshly I can’t disagree with it.

Apple is a business. It has a business model to make money. That is the purpose of business. I don’t believe corporations are intrinsically good or evil, they are just simple organisms that feed on money. They do whatever they think is best to keep the money supply flowing. In Apple’s case it is to produce hardware and software that sells. So this behaviour is not surprising or disturbing to me at all. Apple products work well for me so I don’t begrudge their effort to protect themselves from competition from low grade rip off hardware vendors.

zewazir

Once again, for those who cannot get it through their thick, anti-corporate, I-want-it-all-but-don’t-want-to-pay-for-it skulls, copying someone’s design is still an infringement on patent. Design CAN (obviously) be patented, as there are probably more design patents out there than function patents.

And, for those who CLAIM to know all about patent law (but seemingly do not have a genuine clue, but base their opinion on what they WISH could happen) making one minor change (ie: the plug size) is not enough to avoid infringement.

There are many, many Apple compatible, 3rd party adapters. None of them, except this one, look like Apple’s original adapters.  IOW, these 3rd party adapters are the result of someone creating their OWN design for an adapter with the needed parameters to power an Apple portable computer.  There is NO reason what so ever that MSH could not have done the same.  That they did not indicates they want theirs to look like Apples.  What reason could that be, except for the purpose of confusing people whose is whose. But THAT is exactly why design patents are in place, so someone cannot simulate another companies wares to the point that there is confusion between the two.

Hamranhansenhansen

> Apple has licensed their adapters before, and
> there is no reason to expect them to not license
> the MagSafe adapter.

There is a big 3rd party external 24-hour battery for MacBooks that has a MagSafe on it, as well as a USB jack for iPhone charging.

The Apple adapter is great, but it doesn’t fit into my tiny MacBook Air case, so I was looking for an accessory adapter with a slightly different shape, say wider and flatter, or with a retractable cable since it would be in my notebook bag most of the time. This clone of the Apple adapter enables me to save $28 while losing the Apple brand, but an adapter with a unique shape would give me more options.

locia88418

Brand NEW Apple M8482 Laptop AC Adapter Features:

Apple M8482, 24V, 1.875A Laptop AC Adapter


Condition: Brand New

Color: White
Input: 100 - 240V 1.5A 50-60Hz
Output:24V, 1.875A?
Power:45W
Connecter size: 7.7mm*2.5mm
Remark: Ribbon cable included

Attention!
Please make sure the plug and output will match your machine before bidding.
Apple M8482 Laptop AC Adapter Compatible with P/N:

Apple M8482, A1036, M8482LL/A, M8482LLA


http://www.any-battery.com/apple-m8482-45w-24v-1875a-ac-adapter-p-311.html

Log-in to comment