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Monday, September 10, 2012, 12:45 pm PT (03:45 pm ET)

HP taken to task for releasing iMac clone

After joining a variety of other PC makers in producing "Ultrabooks" closely patterned after Apple's MacBook Air, HP has released a new "Spectre One" PC that looks "painfully" like an Apple iMac.

Matthew Panzarino of the NextWeb announced the new HP model with the headline "HP introduces new Apple iMac," calling it "painful to look at" and saying it "looks like absolutely nothing other than a complete clone of Apple’s iMac."

The new HP doesn't have the identical aluminum bezel as Apple's iMac line, but does trade in HP's typical black plastic case for a design that appears to be Apple's Cinema Display.

The world's largest PC company by unit sales even paired its new model with a slim wireless keyboard and trackpad that look identical to the designs Apple first released for the revised aluminum iMac in 2007.



Other media outlets covering the new model appeared careful not to raise any suggestion that HP's latest PC was desperately trying to get some mileage out of the design Apple made famous, but users commenting on those reports pointed out the obvious. Those comments were met by others who insisted that Apple's designs were really the only way to make devices ranging from PCs to tablets to smartphones.

Electronista noted that HP's new model "that instantly recalls Apple's iMac" is touted for its "Windows 8-rediness" but does not support touchscreen input, relying instead upon trackpad gestures "in another nod to an Apple philosophy."

Nothing is new about copying Apple's designs; the company just sued Samsung over trade dress and design patents for what it called "slavish copying" of its iPhone and iPad. A jury agreed, returning a verdict that included over $1billion in fines and profit return to Apple.

Just over ten years ago, Apple similarly filed for trade dress claims related to its original translucent plastic iMac model, which injected interest into the boring PC industry that had seen little design innovation in more than a decade.

Apple successfully stopped eMachines, Daewoo and other Asian PC makers from selling their iMac copies. Since then, the company has launched relatively few legal actions to protect its Mac designs, apart from a battle with Psystar that successfully stopped the tiny firm from including Apple's OS X software on its "OpeniMac" PCs.

At the same time, however, Apple's close partner Intel has actively stoked imitation among larger PC makers, introducing a Mac mini clone with AOpen based on the chip maker's "reference design" for small PCs in 2005.

Apple has since redesigned the Mac mini to more closely resemble its Apple TV box, but Samsung and Google immediately teamed up to deliver a "Series 3 Chromebox" with the same design, right down to its round lid base.



Last year, Intel launched another "reference design" response to Apple's increasingly successful MacBook line under the brand "Ultrabook," and has spent hundreds of millions to advertise the initiative.



PC makers dutifully turned out a series of MacBook clones in time for Intel to display a half dozen doppelgängers at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January, with HP among the companies looking to Apple for design leadership.