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Wait, Did Apple Just Patent the Ultrabook?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple the rights to the design of the latest version of Macbook Air, which could easily be argued to be the blueprint for the appearance of an Intel Ultrabook.

The design patent generally describes the thin screen lid and a keyboard element that tapers out to the front of the device. The document also shows the integration of the Air's ports as well as the location and design of its feet, providing room for variation for Ultrabook makers. However, there is no doubt that current Ultrabook designs are very similar to the design in the patent. It will be interesting to see whether Apple will make moves to enforce the rights to at least certain elements of the design and, if it does, we will learn just how much the design of a product that has not changed much in more than 20 years can be protected by a patent. Essentially, the notebook design today is still based on a foldable screen with a keyboard just like the first modern notebooks in the late 1980s. The differences between notebooks and Ultrabooks could be, depending on your view and argument, rather small.

One reason it's important for Apple to hold the design of this patent is the fact that it is an increasingly important product category that is a critical to the evolution of the PC industry. PC makers and Intel, as well as AMD in the not so distant future, have a considerable advantage in that they can exploit the design of ultrathin notebooks borrowing elements from an idea Apple had first. If Apple wanted to be nasty, it probably has a good foundation to at least annoy PC makers. However, then there is Intel with which Apple has a decent relationship. Not only that, but the overlaps between the Macbook Air and the Ultrabook may not be significant: Apple is focusing on the market of $1000 and above, while Intel is looking at the $700 segment and AMD at the $500 market.

  • friskiest
    Haters gotta hate eh,. but this is going tiresome,.. screw Apple...
    Reply
  • Scoregie
    I wish.. patents would die.... or apple not sure which one... perhaps... never mind screw this im gonna go eat my oranges
    Reply
  • cbrunnem
    Apple, the patent trolls.
    Reply
  • HDmac
    Oh, well that's ok because I have a patent for a device that has a screen and keyboard. That device also uses 1's and 0's to complete mathematical problems. Even though these devices have been around for years now, I am going to be filling this patent tomorrow. /patent troll
    Reply
  • Yuka
    Well, if apple messes with the ultrabooks and ultrathins, they'll mess with Intel and AMDs bottom line as well as the vendors.

    I don't think Apple would sue them like that with it. Not Intel at least... I don't think their lawyers are THAT arrogant...

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    That design looks obvious to me. There are only so many ways you can build a thin laptop. I want to see the patent office write 100 page essays on why they approve things like this. I want to see them justify it. I'm tired of them rubber stamping everything. I'm tired of seeing them take my tax money to fund allowing obvious stuff like this to be patented.
    Reply
  • Pinhedd
    YukaWell, if apple messes with the ultrabooks and ultrathins, they'll mess with Intel and AMDs bottom line as well as the vendors.I don't think Apple would sue them like that with it. Not Intel at least... I don't think their lawyers are THAT arrogant...Cheers!
    Yeah really... Don't bite the hand that feeds
    Reply
  • Problem is, Apple wasn't the first to design the thin and light notebook. I believe Sony first came up with the design. Apple is just the first to patent it. Apple = patent troll.
    Reply
  • leongrado
    Why didn't they do this before the ultrabook came out?
    Reply
  • Tab54o
    Screw apple, ultrabooks suck anyway why is thin so inportant you cant put blue ray drives on it theres hardly any USB ports or anything else. Apple DIAF ASAP, k thanks.
    Reply