The design of Apple's Smart Cover accessory for its second- and third-generation iPads is not so original, according to a new lawsuit filed against the company this week.
In a complaint filed in Colorado yesterday, and picked up by PaidContent, local resident Jerald Bovino claims Apple is infringing on a patent he owns for a "portable computer case" with its Smart Cover accessory.
The complaint also sets sights on retailer Target for selling the case with Apple's iPad in its stores. In return, Bovino seeks damages from both companies and royalties from Apple.
Bovino filed for the patent in mid-2003, and was later issued it in December, 2005. According to its summary, the design in question is a ruggedized case to protect against wear and tear, but that also includes a strap for carrying:
The present invention is directed to a portable computer having an integral case that incorporates a resilient material to protect the portable computer from wear and tear encountered when transporting and/or using the portable computer. The integral case also includes a retractable strap means that can be utilized to facilitate the transporting of the portable computer. The integral case for the portable computer also includes an identification pocket on the exterior surface of the integral case for incorporating identification documents for the portable computer.
By comparison, Apple's Smart Cover is a single-sided cover that protects the front, but not the back of the iPad, and attaches with magnets.
The day before this particular complaint was filed, Apple was granted some 25 new patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including one for its Smart Cover. However unlike Bovino's, the one Apple was awarded is a design patent.