Apple Just Got Clearance to Wage War on Ultrabooks

In the patent war of life, you need all the ammo you can get.

Apple (NAS: AAPL) was just granted a broad design patent covering the overall look and physical appearance of the MacBook Air. The wedge shape and tapered profile of the laptop has largely set the design tone for Intel's (NAS: INTC) big Ultrabook push, partnering with a handful of PC manufacturers to challenge Apple in the thin-and-light laptop space.

Much like the Mac maker was awarded numerous design patents for the overall aesthetic of the iPhone, which it promptly hurled in frenemy Samsung's general vicinity, Apple now owns the distinct shape of the MacBook Air that has spawned countless copycat Ultrabooks. Design patents are largely based upon drawings and illustrations, and would be found to infringe if an offending device looks "substantially similar" to an "ordinary observer" to the design patent.

The solid lines are what are actually covered in the patent, while the dotted lines are for additional context.


Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

That's bad news for Hewlett-Packard (NAS: HPQ) and Dell (NAS: DELL) , among others, whose recent Ultrabooks bear an uncanny resemblance to Cupertino's wares. When HP unveiled its ENVY Spectre XT notebook last month, it chalked up the similarities to a natural convergence of design philosophy rather than an overt attempt to mimic Apple. Dell's XPS 13 also takes some clear cues, as do OEMs like Asus and Acer.


Source: Product images from Apple, HP, Asus, Dell, and Acer.

Source: Product images from Apple, HP, Asus, Dell, and Acer.

I would imagine that Apple is already preparing its patent offensive against Ultrabooks to begin counting down. Ready, aim, fire!

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Intel and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days

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