August 25th, 1999

[2:50 PM]
Apple Adds SOTEC (eOne Designer) To Lawsuit Hit List, SOTEC Says "Unfair"
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has added another target to its iMac protection Hit List by suing SOTEC. Regular Observers will remember that SOTEC is the actual designer of the eOne that eMachines is marketing. SOTEC actually calls the machine the e-one, eMachines simply adapted the name to fit their own naming protocols and called it the eOne. According to Bloomberg (which incorrectly refers to SOTEC as Sotech):

Cupertino, California-based Apple and its Japanese subsidiary said they filed suit in a Tokyo court yesterday against Sotec to block sales of the eOne, which features a blue-and-white translucent case similar to Apple's colorful line of iMacs. The eOne, which Sotec developed in conjunction with two Korean manufactures, retails for $267 less than the iMac and has been a hit with Japanese consumers since going on sale July 27.

The move is the latest in a series of legal steps by Apple to assert its rights to the distinctive features of the iMac, which was the best-selling PC in US retail stores in May. The computer giant filed suit in a US court last week against Emachines, a joint venture of Sotech's two Korean partners, TriGem Computer, and Korean Data Systems.

"We have filed suit and are seeking a provisional injunction against Sotec on the ground that it has copied the industrial design of the award-winning iMac," said Apple Japan in a statement.

Sotec, an unlisted Yokohama-based distributor of PCs, helped design the eOne, which was manufactured in Korea by Emachines. A fourth partner, Japan's Kyoden, contributed to circuit board development.

"This action is not fair," said Sotec spokesman Toshiya Nakao. "We developed the eOne using our own technology."

The Mac Observer Spin: Unfair indeed. SOTEC undoubtedly used its own technology to engineer a computer that looks like an iMac. The eOne is clearly not a copy on the same level as the ePower from Future Power, but it is obviously supposed to remind the potential buyer of the iMac. This is supported by eMachines own marketing materials which compare the computer to the iMac.

SOTEC is not responsible (one would assume) for the marketing materials put out by the companies selling their computers, but it still stands that the company was attempting to manufacture a computer that looks like an iMac. This lawsuit is being handled by Apple Japan and will pursued in Tokyo, not the United States. For those Observers in the States, or more specifically outside of Asia, the preconceptions we carry here in the States, of course, do not apply. Apple will have undoubtedly picked the most favorable venue to pursue the case, but it's certainly anyone's guess how it will end.

SOTEC may call being sued for trying to exploit the hard work of Apple "unfair," but we beg to differ.

We are putting out an Observer Call for Asian Observers, or any Observers that have a direct finger on Japanese technical news, to please help keep us up-to-date on events in this case.

SOTEC - Apple