Taiwan govt cautions PC makers of Apple patent

Ministry of Economic Affairs warns manufacturers to avoid designing ultrabooks looking like Apple's MacBook Air devices amid country's efforts to sidestep patent disputes, reports note.

Taiwan has warned local PC manufacturers such as Asus and Acer, which produces ultrabooks, their products may be at risk of patent lawsuits after Apple was awarded a U.S. patent for the design of its MacBook Air devices last month.

According to a report by ComputerWorld on Wednesday, the intellectual property (IP) office of Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has issued a warning that Apple's patent, which covers the wedge and teardrop shape of its MacBook Air devices, could create legal problems for ultrabook makers since these laptops have similar designs.

Xue Shuhua, a public relations staff member with the office, said in the report: "We are recommending that PC vendors be careful. Companies that manufacture ultrabooks should avoid the Apple patent when producing their products."

It also plans to hold talks with local PC makers, but has yet to decide when or which companies to talk to, it added.

To the warning, Acer told ComputerWorld: "Apple's patent on the teardrop profile design is different to Acer's ultrabook design. Hence, currently, the patent has no impact on Acer."

The tech news site noted the warning from the government is the latest move by Taiwan's electronics industry to avoid patent disputes.

Last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced plans to set up an IP bank as local companies were constantly being sued for patent infringement. According to the Taipei Times, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, which was appointed to manage the project, had set aside NT$50 million (US$1.73 million) for the bank, which was to be established last September.