Apple's MacBook Air has a characteristic slim design that's immediately recognizable by both Apple fans and Windows users. According to The Verge, Apple now owns a design patent that covers this distinctive tapered design.
In their analysis, The Verge points out that the patent's drawings focus on the sloping edges and the overall shape of the lid and base of the laptop, not the placement of extras like the ports and rubber feet. This emphasis could be problematic for companies like HP and Asus which mimicked the look of the MacBook Air in their recent products.
As pointed out by Daring Fireball and Boing Boing yesterday, even ultraslim PC laptops seem to be kneecapped by a vintage design constraint: the thickness of a conventional VGA port. Apple's migration to Thunderbolt and DisplayPort may require a separate adapter for VGA or DVI connections, but it definitely reduces the chunk factor.