Will Cube copy bring Apple's wrath?

Taiwanese company's virtual twin to the Power Mac G4 Cube has Mac fans wondering when Apple will send in the lawyers

Move over, iMac imitators: Now a company has cloned the Cube. In the past year, Apple sought and won injunctions against three computer companies that planned to produce "iMac-alike" all-in-one computers.

With the arrival of DA Computing Technology's recently announced "Cube-alike" Komodo Server at Comdex Fall 2000 in Las Vegas, Apple watchers across the Web are speculating whether the latest apparent homage to the Mac maker's industrial design will draw a legal response from Cupertino. The Komodo Server, which comes encased in a clear, rectilinear case, bears more than a passing physical resemblance to the Power Mac G4 Cube, which Apple rolled out at July's Macworld Expo/New York. The Taiwanese company's promotional literature also seems to borrow a page from Apple's design play book: "Unlike the traditional server of rake and tower style architectures, we have designed a colourful transparent cubic case to giving it not just like a general server, but a decorative appliance."

DA Computing told ZDNet News that beneath the shiny skin, the two systems are very different. The Komodo Server is a Linux-based "server appliance" with proprietary browser software for providing centralised intranet and Internet serving. In addition, it's about twice the size of Apple's compact Cube, which measures 8in on each side and lacks card-expansion slots or a cooling fan.

According to Steve Horng, DA Computing's manager of sales and marketing, the inside of the case is similar to a PC, with slots for expansion and two cooling fans.

The Komodo Server's case was designed two months ago, DA Computing said.

DA Computing officials said the four-year-old, privately held company will sell the unit for $1,000, and it will reach US shores in the next two months. Horng would not name the companies that will offer the Komodo Servers but said the partners are based in New York and California.

Horng said he believes the Cube will be a part of "a trend in the computing market this upcoming year". He said he doesn't believe Apple will press charges for copyright infringement, although DA Computing has not tried to communicate with Apple on the topic.

An Apple representative told ZDNet News that Apple could not yet comment on any legal plans but said the company is looking at the issue.

Apple was not the first computer company to sell a cubical product. Many Apple-centric Web sites have commented on the cubical form factor used by Next Computer, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs' former company. And Cobalt Networks has for two years shipped its cubical Qube, which, like the Komodo Server, is a server appliance, though its 7in-square size more closely matched Apple's Cube.

Ironically, Cobalt Networks chief executive Stephen DeWitt in July told reporters that his company was contemplating legal action against Apple, accusing the Mac maker of copying its Qube design with the Cube.

Cobalt representatives were not available to comment on the status of its claims against Apple or any possible action it might take against DA Computing.

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