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11/25/2009
10:21 AM
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Apple Sues To Stop Power Adapter Knock Offs

A lawsuit filed on Monday charges a California-based company with copying a patented Apple design.

Apple Fights Hardware Knock Offs
(click image for larger view)
Apple Fights Hardware Knock Offs

Apple on Monday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Media Solutions Holdings, a company based in Anaheim, Calif. that allegedly sells knock-off Apple products through several Web sites.

Apple's complaint charges that Media Solutions Holdings, through the Web sites www.laptopsforless.com, www.laptopacadapter.com and www.ereplacements.com, sells "various consumer electronic accessories at retail, including knock-off power adapters for use with genuine Apple portable computers."

"Through various Web sites and otherwise, the Defendants market these knock-off power adapters for use with Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook," the complaint states.

Apple claims that some of the power adapters sold through these Web sites violate its "Power adapter" patent, issued in August, 2003.

Apple's patent covers the design of its adapters and the complaint provides a side-by-side comparison of authorized and allegedly infringing power adapters.

Like many successful technology companies, Apple is typically a defendant in patent cases. Of the 15 or so patent lawsuits filed during the second half of 2009 that involve Apple, the company is the plaintiff only in this one case.

Apple is a member of the Patent Fairness Coalition, which seeks to reform the patent system to reduce the cost of patent litigation, which averages $4.5 million through trial, according to the group.

One reason for the high cost is the rising number of lawsuits by non-practicing entities, businesses that exist solely to litigate and collect patent royalties.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in April, David Simon, chief patent counsel for Intel -- a member of the Patent Fairness Coalition -- said, "This litigation effectively imposes a tax on the creation and use of innovative technology products. That is precisely the opposite of what we want in our economy."

The challenge for patent reform legislation is crafting a law that both protects innovation and discourages predatory litigation.

Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).

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