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iMac clone maker to swap color after court ruling

by Michael Drexler


TOKYO (IDG) -- In the wake of a Tokyo District Court injunction against the sale of Sotec's iMac lookalikes, the Korean-Japanese PC maker said that it will change the color of its e-one machines from Apple's distinctive translucent blue and white to simple silver, according to a media report.

Sotec would not comment directly on the report in a recent edition of the Nikkei Shimbun, a leading Japanese business daily. However, a spokesman at the company said that Sotec is planning to roll out new models of the basic machine, but hasn't made a decision on what color they will be.
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Apple's local subsidiary, Apple Japan, filed a lawsuit against Sotec last month alleging that the Yokohama-based company has illegally copied Apple's distinctive design.

Judge Toshiaki Iimura of the 29th Civil Division of the Tokyo District court concurred, saying that the designs of the e-one and the iMac shared common curvature, materials, specific design details as well as color. He ordered a preliminary injunction against the manufacture, sale, display, export or import of Sotec's machine, according to Hiroshi Suzuki, a spokesman at the court.

Sotec apparently believes that changing the color of the e-one alone will differentiate it enough for the court, according to the Nikkei Shimbun, quoting Sotec officials. The company also reportedly said that it would appeal the court's injunction and denies copying the iMac design.

But even Sotec's reported new color scheme may still get the company into trouble. While not available yet in the iMac chassis or in Japan, Apple's recently announced G4 machines sport a silver, grey and clear casing which may be similar to Sotec's reported re-coloring plans.

Sotec began selling its cut-price Windows 98-based machine here in July for around 128,000 yen (US$1,230), about 30,000 yen less than Apple's iMac. The company has back orders for 30,000 e-one machines that the court's injunction has put on hold.

A spokesman at Apple Japan said that his company would not comment during the duration of the court case.

Recently, Apple has been trying to stave off a number of would-be cloners hoping to cash in on the iMac's soaring popularity. Apple sued eMachines in the U.S. last month, arguing that the company's eOne machine copied the iMac. An Apple representative said last month that eMachines' PC and the Sotec PC are in fact the same computer.

EMachines is a joint venture between Korean PC manufacturer TriGem Computer, monitor maker Korea Data Systems, and other investors.

Apple also filed a suit against Korea's Daewoo Telecom and its joint venture Future Power on July 1, alleging that the company's bubble-shaped PC had copied its basic design from the iMac.

Michael Drexler writes for the IDG News Service in Tokyo.

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