Two days ago, Apple was awarded a patent for a wedge design by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent is in regards to the company's MacBook Air laptop, which features the wedge design in question.
Apple was awarded patent D661,296 for an "ornamental design for an electronic device, as shown and described" in its patent application. Apple had filed for the patent in October 2010. The full patent award filing, which features design illustrations material to the patent, can be seen here. Little description exists for the patent; the terse description that accompanied the design illustrations was primarily primarily for the sake of clarity:
The gray shading on the electronic device represents a metallic-looking surface.
The relatively light gray shade lines on the surface portions indicate contour and not specific decoration.
The broken lines are are for the purpose of illustrating portions of the electronic device and form no part of the claimed design.
Essentially, what the filing states is that only the general wedge design in combination with a metallic-looking surface is what Apple was claiming to patent. No information on the design's dimensions, how it is built or what differentiates it from similar designs, such as the MacBook Air's unibody case, are part of the patent. While the design illustrations provided in the patent clearly show a MacBook Air, the patent is clearly broad enough that it can be applied to any and all laptops with a wedge design similar to the MacBook Air.
The patent has a 14 year limitation, meaning other notebook manufacturers won't be allowed to use a similar design until June 5, 2026. Numerous ultrabooks currently feature a design with a similar style. With the patent, Apple can now attempt to halt other manufacturers from selling or releasing any current or future devices featuring a similar design.
Source: CNET News