Apple received a lot of ridicule earlier this week when it launched an entirely unexpected and utterly hideous iPhone battery case. The accessory itself is not a bad idea, considering that the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6 might not satisfy the battery needs of hardcore users. However, Apple’s design choices for the case are unusual and the product is nothing like what you’d expect from Apple.

But there may be an explanation as to why Apple had to go this route: Patents.

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If there’s one company that knows a thing or two about studying patents, that’s Apple. The company has been involved in a lot of patent disputes with Samsung and others over the years and it knows it has to be careful when potentially infringing on others’ designs.

So with the Apple Smart Battery Case design, Apple might be looking to avoid patent troubles with accessory makers, The Verge suggests.

Apple may have deliberately created the battery case around Mophie’s patents, as the company has “tons of patents on the design and functionality of these” cases.

mophie-patent-iphone-battery-caseImage Source: Mophie

The Verge highlights a patent that describes an iPhone battery case design that might be infringed by virtually any other company developing battery cases for smartphones. Mophie patent No. 9,172,070 describes a battery case that’s made of two components including “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” and “a removable upper case,” like in the image above.

The blog says that other iPhone battery case makers also stay away from Mophie’s numerous designs, using a snap-on bezels design.

That’s why Apple may have opted for a slide-in design that has nothing in common with Mophie’s patented designs.

Of course, Apple has not confirmed any of this, but the explanation seems plausible. Even if Apple can definitely battle out a smaller company like Mophie in court, it probably doesn’t want to do it.

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