July 1st, 1999

[2:22 PM] Apple Sues iMac Rip-off Maker "Future Power"

Apple has not waited long to answer the industrial design theft by a company called Future Power. First broken by The Daily iMac, Future Power has designed a computer that is a remarkable rip-off of the iMac called E-Power. Apple's suit accuses the company of breaching their trademarks.

Apple today filed a complaint against Future Power and Daewoo for illegally copying the industrial design of Apple's award-winning iMac computer. The complaint was filed in U.S. Federal Court in San Jose, California, and seeks to enjoin Future Power and Daewoo from distributing computers that illegally copy Apple's designs, and asks for actual and punitive damages resulting from such illegal conduct.

"There is a universe of original designs that Future Power and Daewoo could have created for their computers, but instead they chose to copy Apple's designs," said Steve Jobs, Apple's interim CEO. "We've invested a lot of money and effort to create and market our award-winning designs, and we intend to vigorously protect them under the law."

Future Power has said in the past that they did not feel they were stepping on Apple's toes. According to a MacWeek article late last week:

"There has been some discussion up to this point with Apple," said Future Power spokesperson Kim Uberti. "We are trying to get a statement together [about the nature of the discussions]." Future Power will release a statement about Apple on Friday, she said.

"Apple, we don't deny, led the way with the iMac . . . but that is for the Mac market," she said. "Future Power is for the Windows enthusiast. We don't feel that Future Power is competing directly with Apple."

Future Power has yet to respond to the suit now that it has been filed.

The Mac Observer Spin: Uhhhh... they may not be competing directly with Apple, after all they are selling PCs which are no competition whatsoever. However, while validating Apple's approach, they are also blatantly stepping all over Apple's industrial design, trademarks, and image. While a settlement is likely, Future Power will lose this one. Good riddance.

It is interesting to see the nature of Steve Jobs' quote. While many times quotes attributed in a press release are not even seen by the executive they are attributed to, let alone actually said by them, this one might be straight from Mr. Jobs. In any event, he sounds almost like a disappointed father crestfallen by the acts of an insolent child. That could be reading more into it than there is of course, but it is not the kind of statement we would have expected to see come from Apple.