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Future Power vows to fight on in iMac case

Apple may have declared victory a bit too early in its move to stamp out iMac look-alikes as at least one of the defendants says another iMac-like PC is coming soon.

Apple Computer may have declared victory a bit too early in its move to stamp out iMac look-alikes as at least one of the defendants said today it will likely come out with another iMac-like PC in the near future.

Future Power, which has been marketing an iMac look-alike called the E-Power, will come out with a new computer that is identical to the machines involved in the lawsuit except for one detail, the company said. Rather than come with a translucent case in Grape, Lime or one of the other colors associated with the iMac, the new computer will feature a non-translucent, silver-blue case.

"Hardware-wise, except for the color, it is going to be identical to the E-Power," said Bill Voecks, general manager of Future Power, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based distributor, adding that the new machine would probably come out in April.

Apple could not be reached for comment.

In a strongly worded statement, Future Power today objected to the way Apple characterized how the issue was settled.

Future Power's new computer comes to market as the result of nuances in the settlement agreements, Voecks said. The controversy dates back to last June when Korean giant Daewoo and its subsidiary Future Power announced the E-Power, an all-in-one computer with color accents that bore an acute resemblance to Apple's successful iMac.

A few weeks after the companies unveiled the E-Power at New York's PC Expo trade show, Apple filed a suit in federal court for infringement of trade dress. Trade dress protects distinctive visual designs from infringement. A similar suit was filed against Emachines and its distributor Sotec.

Apple won a preliminary injunction against Daewoo toward the end of 1999 and then settled the case in January, according to Apple. Apple then declared the suits at an end. At the time, Future Power could not be reached for comment.

Although Daewoo settled the case, it retained a number of rights, said Voecks. The settlement permits Daewoo to make an E-Power computer that comes in a "silvery-blue" case. Further, the settlement with Daewoo permits the company to make E-Power computers in Grape, Lime, Tangerine, Graphite, Bondi Blue and the other known iMac colors four years from now.

As a result, Daewoo and Future Power remain free to market their silver-blue computer. Voecks said that the machine may be marketed under a different name and could conceivably feature colors that no one has thought of yet. Whatever the final name or color, he said that Future Power is testing the system and that it will probably come out in April.

Future Power also did not settle with Apple, unlike its co-defendant Daewoo, Voecks said.

"We still think that the suit was inappropriate," he said. Daewoo could not be reached for comment. Voecks, however, stated that the company will be providing computers to Future Power.

Emachines, which settled a similar suit with Apple, said that it would stop making the version of its eOne computer that Apple claimed infringed its rights. However, Emachines said it has the right to come out with other stylized computers in its eOne line.