Future Power fires back at Apple

The US marketer of the iMac-alike E-Power demands a retraction after Apple claims a "worldwide injunction" against its system
Written by Matthew Rothenberg, Contributor

Future Power came out swinging on Tuesday in response to Apple Computer's claim that it had obtained a "worldwide injunction" against Future Power's E-Power PC, which Apple has accused of aping its popular iMac. "Future Power considers Apple's announcement to be misleading and, through its attorneys, has demanded a retraction by Apple," Future Power stated in a news release.

According to Future Power, Apple reached a negotiated settlement with its corporate parent, South Korea-based Daewoo Telecom, that permits sale of a version of the E-Power computer made with a "silvery blue"-coloured plastic casing. For the next four years, Daewoo is prohibited from selling E-Power computers (and other machines with the same overall shape and size) in the Bondi Blue, Blueberry, Tangerine, Strawberry, Grape, Lime and Graphite colours that mimic those of the iMac.

But Future Power said Apple's settlement with Daewoo has no bearing on its own PC plans. "No settlement has been reached between Apple and Future Power," the news release stated. "It remains Future Power's intention to vigorously contest Apple's trade-dress claims."

"The marketing of products made with colourful translucent plastic is a design trend that started with Swatch watches, beepers, CD players and other consumer products several years before Apple jumped on the bandwagon with its iMac," Future Power general manager Bill Voecks said in a statement. "Future Power does not believe that consumers should be forced to wait another four years before fashionable coloured computers become available to the vast majority of computer buyers who prefer a Windows operating system to the Macintosh operating system." Apple was not immediately available for comment on Future Power's statement.

Apple last week posted a news release stating that it had succeeded in securing injunctions against the distribution of all-in-one consumer systems from Daewoo and eMachines, concluding legal proceedings that began last summer. However, both Future Power and eMachines told ZDNet News US that they plan to release slightly redesigned versions of their E-Power and eOne systems in the near future.

The legal saga began at last June's PC Expo in New York City, when Future Power unveiled its E-Power PC. The machine's ovoid shape, unified form factor and blue colour drew much attention and immediate comparisons to Apple's iMac. In addition, company representatives said the $799 (£495) system would ultimately be offered in five "jewel-toned" colours, similar to the iMac's five "flavours".

The E-Power's looks also attracted attention from Apple's legal team. Even though the E-Power was not scheduled to go on sale in the US until September, on 1 July Apple filed a trade-dress complaint in US District Court in San Jose, California, against Future Power and Daewoo for illegally copying the industrial design of the iMac. An Apple news release dated the next day stated that the action would seek "to enjoin Future Power and Daewoo from distributing computers that illegally copy Apple's designs, and asks for actual and punitive damages resulting from such illegal conduct".

Daniel Drew Turner contributed to this report.

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