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Apple sues HyperMac battery maker for using patented MagSafe and iPod connectors without approval

Nilay Patel
September 22, 2010
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Most Mac-wielding Engadget editors have had huge crushes on their HyperMac batteries ever since Apple moved to sealed-in MacBook Pro cells across the line, but there's a chance the party is over: Cupertino filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against HyperMac manufacturer Sanho earlier this month, claiming that it's using the patented MagSafe power connector and 30-pin iPhone / iPod dock connector without a license. Ouch. What makes this all the more interesting is that Sanho's always said it's using original Apple MagSafe connectors, which would theoretically defeat Apple's patent claims -- once a patent holder sells a product that contains a patented technology, it can be difficult to claim that the patent is being infringed by the use of that product, even if there's modification involved. (Legal nerds might want to look up "patent exhaustion" here.)

The iPod connector claims might be a little easier for Apple, since we don't know if Sanho's using original parts in those cables -- and whatever savings it might have accrued by using knockoff connectors are probably going to be wiped out by the costs of this lawsuit. If we had to guess, we'd say Apple's simply unhappy that Sanho hasn't joined the lucrative Made for iPhone / Made for iPod / Made for iPad licensing programs that govern use of the connector, and that the MagSafe claim is just additional ammunition to force a settlement -- we'll see what happens, but we'd predict things come to a quick end once Sanho's lawyers send in the first bill.



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