Waste and Needless Complexity due to Patents

by Stephan Kinsella on January 6, 2011

As reported by Engadget (see below), Apple sued HyperMac with patent infringement for selling external battery packs for MacBooks that used an (apparently) patented MagSafe connector. HyperMac is very popular (I have one), and did not give up. They realized that Apple sells a Magsafe Airline Adapter for $49. So HyperMac made their connector connect to an auto/airline adapter instead of to the MacBook directly. So, if you want to connect HyperMac to your MacBook, you buy the HyperMac, and you have to buy a $49 connector from Apple, and then connect this kluge all together. It’s more expensive than otherwise, wasteful, bulkier, less reliable, etc. But what do you expect from patent law? Good luck to HyperMac.

HyperMac responds with vengeance, and non patent infringing adapter

By Kevin Wong posted Jan 6th 2011 9:00PM
You may remember back in September the sad story of an Apple filed patent-infringement lawsuit that HyperMac and their beloved HyperMac batteries found themselves at the end of. The big whigs in Cupertino accussed HyperMac of using their patented MagSafe power connector and 30-pin iPhone / iPod dock connectors without the proper licensing agreements. Well, HyperMac has responded with a clever yet uninvasive way to avoid future legal ramification and still satisfy a power hungry family of MacBooks and their equally demanding users. HyperMac has now included a new Auto / Airline Adapter with their newly renamed HyperJuice external batteries which connects to a Magsafe Airline Adapter that you can legally purchase from Apple for $49. It is still the same old HyperMac battery we know and love, but with a juicier name and new connection.
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Patrick January 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Seems like more of an ugly “hack” than an elegant design-around … I had a mentor who was convinced that patents promoted progress because of the need for non-infringing alternatives that would be patentable improvements in themselves.

This does not appear to be a good example.

That said, HyperMac’s connector, as I recall, was a recycled Apple connector, so I imagine there will be competing arguments of exhaustion and downstream control.

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