Is Apple’s Smart Battery Case so goofy because it was designed around Mophie’s …

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple launches Smart Battery case for iPhone 6 and 6s.

It’s fair to say that Apple’s new iPhone Smart Battery Case is not the most attractive product the company has ever released. Like every other charging case, it adds an extra inch of thickness to the bottom of the phone, making it hard to use headphones (including Apple’s own Beats line) and the battery simply sticks out as a rectangular bulge. The case spells good news for users desperate to extend their battery life but unwilling to purchase Apple’s large-screen iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus, which offer up to 24 hours of 3G talk time.

But there’s another element at play here: the biggest name in battery cases is Mophie, and Mophie has tons of patents on the design and functionality of these things. Citing sources with knowledge of the plans, 9to5Mac.com reports that Apple is planning to unveil its second-generation Apple Watch at an event in March 2016, with the new Watch shipping by April. The first claim lays out, well, a Mophie battery case — and any other case that has all of these (paraphrased) elements would infringe on Mophie’s patent: 1. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm has also been working on a new “iPhone 6c” with a 4-inch display that could make its debut at the March event, according to 9to5Mac.com. A lower case that contains a battery and sides that extend along a mobile device, with internal and external power connectors, and an on / off switch.

So the company needed a slide-in design without a removable top, and it couldn’t round off the edges of the case without facing at least some chance of running into the various Mophie design patents. By charging hard in the other direction: making a single-piece case with a floppy top and a bulging battery that has nothing in common with various patented Mophie designs. (Bonus points if you also spotted the lurking trade dress issue: lots of people call these cases “Mophies” regardless of brand, and by creating a totally distinct design, Apple also sidestepped any potential likelihood of confusion with the Mophie products.) So that’s my theory — Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment, of course. But it’s hard to see how a company as designed-focused as Apple ends up with a battery case this strange without acknowledging that they were late to market, faced a meaningful competitor with a strong patent portfolio, and perhaps just did what it had to do.

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