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Chinese Company Copies Power Mac G4 Design

Chinese Company Copies Power Mac G4 Design

by , 11:00 AM EST, January 14th, 2004

When the iMac was introduced, Apple found that a few companies from Japan and the US thought they could copy Apple's industrial design. One company, Future Power, went so far as to claim that people had a right to industrial design.

Future Power's General Manager, Bill Voecks, said in response to an Apple lawsuit in April of 2000:

"Future Power does not believe that consumers should be forced to wait another four years before fashionable colored computers become available to the vast majority of computer buyers who prefer a Windows operating system to the MacIntosh [sic] operating system."

What Future Power found out was that people would be forced to wait for a computer made with colored plastics that looked like an iMac. Industrial design is a concept that enjoys legal protections, which was how Apple was able to beat Future Power, SOTEC, and eMachines in the courts, and keep their iMac knock-offs off the market.

A new threat to Apple could be emerging in another part of Asia, however, and this other part has little respect for others' copyrights, trademarks, or anything else. We refer to China, a country where piracy of intellectual property from other countries is the norm.

While pirated music and software in China are well-known, at least one Chinese computer maker seems to have taken a shine to Apple's Power Mac G4 industrial design. Observer Matthew Godden noticed this in a story from the Sydney Morning Herald about China's attempts to use local regulations to circumvent the status quo in the world of standards.

While we strongly recommend the article as an interesting (and important) read, it is the image from a Chinese trade show that will be of the most interest to Mac users.


A screen shot from the article that shows a G4 rip-off

In the image above, you'll note a tower design with handles and a front design that are as near to a G4's design as can be. Atop the tower sits two spherical speakers, similar to Apple's Pro Speaker design.

You can find the full image and the original article at the Sydney Morning Herald's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

There is at least one major difference between the old iMac copy cats and this G4 knock-off, and that is that the Power Mac G4 is not a daring new design that is the cornerstone to Apple's current marketing push. In fact, the Power Mac G4 is only still offered by Apple because it needed a less expensive professional model to offer alongside the more expensive Power Mac G5 product line.

Still, China's lack of respect for IP belonging to anyone else is, and will continue to be, a major issue for technology firms everywhere else in the world. From pirated software, to failing to honor the GPL license, to its attempts to force encryption systems that it, the Chinese government, has a key to, to companies that are going to copy industrial design, China's policies benefit only China at the expense of others.

Will Apple care about this G4 knock-off? Probably not, but that may be more because there would never be any recourse for the company as much as it not being important. It could be an issue, however, if a Chinese company began selling an iPod knock-off.

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