It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when you're Apple, a company that thrives on form just as much as it does on function, there's nothing flattering about other companies designing products that look even remotely like existing iDevices. And make no mistake, today's Ultrabooks share design DNA with Apple's MacBook Air, DNA Apple doesn't want anyone else using, so the Cupertino company went out and snagged a broad patent for the MBA's wedge shaped design.
The folks over at The Verge first spotted Apple's new U.S. patent, D266,296 (PDF) which was awarded on Tuesday and, according to their analysis, "is clearly intended to broadly cover the distinctive wedge or teardrop profile of the notebook." Design patents are typically short on text and heavy on drawings, and Apple's latest one is no exception, so there's room for interpretation here. But looking over the diagrams, it sure appears as though Apple is now the rightful owner (according to U.S. patent law) of the wedge shaped design found not only on the MacBook Air, but on many existing Ultrabooks as well.
Slight alterations could help keep Ultrabook makers in the clear, but this is Apple we're talking about, a company that isn't afraid to take competing firms to court based on design. Just ask Samsung, which has been accused of copying the look and feel of iDevices with its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Isn't patent law fun?