) is finding it increasingly difficult to keep its competitors
from cloning the firm's best products. While the Apple/Samsung
lawsuits are open to debate, there is no denying that some firms
will do whatever they can to
. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:
) showed no shame in
blatantly copying the iMac's design
did the same thing
but with less panache.
Thus far, Apple has not sued either company for building
knock-offs. Honda's (NYSE:
) John Mendel might know why.
"Design is really not patentable," Mendel, who serves as the
Senior VP of Honda's American division,
this week. "How you bend sheet metal… Because it's square and it
has a screen or four doors or two doors or three doors, it's very
difficult to patent design. What you hope to do is get a design
that people are attracted to -- kind of a moth to a flame."
Apple has created a "moth to a flame" effect with the MacBook
Air, which inspired Intel (NASDAQ:
) to push for lighter, thinner and faster Windows-based
Consequently, the MacBook Air has also been cloned by a number
of manufacturers. One of them comes from LG and is
to Apple's creation.
Mendel's comments might explain why Apple is not suing its
iMac and MacBook competitors. Nonetheless, the company continues
to go after smartphone manufacturers -- particularly Samsung --
for infringing on Apple's patents, trademarks and/or designs.
Going forward, there could be a way around this -- but it will
not be easy. In order to keep its competitors for following
Apple's lead, the Mac maker must build products and services that
are too difficult to imitate.
According to John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor
America, that's how his firm stays ahead of the competition. In
discussing Hyundai's home and office test drive service (in which
the company delivers new vehicles to potential customers for a
test drive), Krafcik was not worried about the risk that
competitors will follow suit with a similar program.
"They can't," he told Benzinga. "They wouldn't be able to
While analysts would argue that everything can be copied, that
is not entirely true. iTunes is by far the largest and most
successful online music store in the world. While there are many
popular services that allow consumers to stream music, iTunes is
the only massive outlet for purchasing albums and singles. No
other online store can compare. Not even Google (NASDAQ:
), which built a stellar App Store competitor now known as Google
Play, has been able to build a competitive music store.
), Apple's other major competitor, knows a thing or two about
selling books. However, its music store (which pales in
comparison to iTunes) has not been nearly as successful.
Thus, analysts and investors are wrong when they assume that
everything Apple produces can and will be copied successfully. It
is very difficult to create something of that magnitude,
Apple is rarely able to produce a product or service that
sweeps the industry and prevents competitors from
. This may be why the company is so eager to take its smartphone
competitors to court: because it knows that this is the area in
which it is most vulnerable.
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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