PC makers have been shamelessly ripping off Apple for years, and ultrabooks are the latest and starkest example. Could Apple throw its weight around and force ultrabook makers to make machines less reminiscent of the MacBook Air? Maybe so, if the Mac maker's latest patent is any indication.
The Verge spotted the patent and offers some interesting analysis. It says the dashed lines in the patent's technical drawings are meant to be ignored, but the solid lines are not—and those outline the MacBook Air's contoured wedge shape, which is thick at the back and slim at the front. See below:
According to The Verge, the patent "is clearly intended to broadly cover the distinctive wedge or teardrop profile of the notebook." Considering how litigious Apple has been against competitors like Samsung in the smartphone and tablet markets, that might not bode well for ultrabook manufacturers. Then again, The Verge points out that Apple's competitors "can still rely on meaningful tweaks to the angles, shapes and proportions of their notebook designs to avoid the patent."
I suppose it's too early to tell, but perhaps at the very least, the patent will encourage PC vendors to adopt more original designs. That might not be so bad. Not every ultrabook needs to be a MacBook lookalike.