The Copycat Beatdown (11/7/99)

And the courtroom gods continue to smile upon Apple. We don't know if all the planets were aligned or what, but Friday must have been Happy Legal Jig day in Cupertino. First of all, there's Judge Jackson's momentous antitrust smack-down of Microsoft, which is likely to make it just that much tougher for goons from Redmond to try to kill QuickTime by threatening to fit Mac Office with a custom pair of concrete shoes. But even more directly in Apple's favor was the news that a San Jose federal judge apparently plans to keep Future Power's ePower off the streets. (The ePower has already been removed from Future Power's web site.) A San Jose Mercury News article has more on the subject.

This is Apple's second courtroom victory against the daunting spectre of a market flooded with cheesy Wintel ripoffs of the iMac's distinctive design. It is, however, the first such taste of victory here in the U.S.A.; Apple's previous happy moment came when a Japanese court granted a preliminary injunction preventing Sotec from making, selling, or exporting its "e-one" computer until the case was over. Sotec has since "redesigned" the e-one to make it look less like the iMac's long-lost evil Wintel twin-- and when we say "redesigned," we actually mean "covered it with silver spray paint." Since then we've heard nothing about the case, and eMachines, who sells Sotec's clone here in the States, is apparently still hawking the blue and white monstrosities at Circuit City.

This latest ruling, though, is much more significant than just a simple preliminary injunction (though one is forthcoming). In this case, the judge actually ruled that "a computer's appearance is entitled to legal trade dress protections." Which means that Wintel cloners had better think twice before copying Apple's designs in hopes of stealing some of the iMac buying frenzy-- when Apple filed suit against the first cloners, that sent a message that companies who wanted to make iMac ripoffs should be prepared to go to court. Now that the judge has ruled in Apple's favor, the copycats should also be prepared to lose.

SceneLink (1895)
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The above scene was taken from the 11/7/99 episode:

November 7, 1999: Microsoft's taking a beating in court and on Wall Street; who taught these guys how to bribe, anyway? Meanwhile, Apple scores a big smack in the head for iMac cloners Future Power and Daewoo, and Motorola claims that Apple's G4 drought may soon come to a close...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1894: How To Grease Palms (11/7/99)   By now, you've obviously heard about Judge Jackson's findings of fact. If you haven't, it's time to wake up and smell the ozone-- from the lawyers that Bill Gates had vaporized when the word came out Friday night...

  • 1896: The End Of The Drought (11/7/99)   One of the few really dark stains on Apple's otherwise gleaming performance this year was the earnings warning lowering expectations of its fourth-quarter profits due to G4 availability problems-- remember the resulting stock dip?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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