Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Unsafe Magsafe: Fake Apple MagSafe AC Adapter Being Sold On eBay

A Hong Kong distributor has started selling fake/modded MagSafe AC adapters on eBay. Apple has not licensed any 3rd party that I am aware of to use the MagSafe adapter. As I was perusing ebay to find a replacement for a customer I found this.

From the auction description:

60W power charger AC Adapter for Apple MacBook ONE pieces.
*This is a Brand new Power AC Adapter made by PANASONIC, We modify with a Original Brand New Magsafe DC plug, and use for MacBook, (Not for MacBook Pro).

size: 170 x 82 x 40 mm

Input Voltage: 100-240V 50-60Hz (USE for WORLDWIDE)

Condition: Brand New Panasonic AC Adapter + Brand New Original Apple Magsafe cord, 30 days warranty, fully refund (less postage) and buyer need pay return postage by himself, If you no accept,Please don't BID.

---------- FIX YOUR THINKING COMMENTARY ----------

Besides this being ugly ... there's just no way this could be safe or convenient - it's just $30 cheaper than a MagSafe adapter from Apple. Its sad to see eBay allow such auctions.

Link to auction

* Thank you Buzmania for the tip


Apple owns US patent 7,311,526, "Magnetic connector for electronic device", for this technology.

Apple also owns a copyright and trademarke on the name MAGSAFE©™


Anonymous said...

I can't necessarily disagree with your assertion that this is unsafe, but I have to ask why you make it. If the actual adapter is made by Panasonic and is within the power range of the regular Magsafe what makes it unsafe? This is just a different style of plug and is probably the exact same as Apple is using.

Different manufacturers including iGo and Targus have been making third-party adapters for Powerbooks for years. This has been convenient because the original Apple adapters are often expensive and sometimes hard to get.

This seller sells the adapter for as low as $25.00 plus $9.00 shipping BRAND NEW. That is over $50 less expensive than a MagSafe from Apple which is quite a difference.

Their feedback as a seller is also quite good at 99.2%. I think that your critique of their product and auction is not fair and eBay has TONS of products that represent less expensive versions of other products as well as mods and so forth.

It is the responsibility of Apple to police unauthorized products that appear on the market and if they are not complaining to eBay about this, then what's the big deal?

I say that it is unfair to users to be saddled with the high cost of a hard-to-get adapter that is literally one of a kind. Apple needs to be licensing this adapter to targus and others in consideration of their users that need reasonably priced backup power adapters. Apparently it can be done, because this company is certainly doing it.

FYT said...

I'm not sure if you mean the actual adapter as "the fake one" or Apple's adapter. Apple's adapter is assembled by Compal - not Panasonic.

In my opinion ... Apple's adapter is a no brainer - not only from a design point of view but because of a convenience point of view. The Panasonic adapter they appear to be adapting is HUGE and bulky. The Apple adapter fits nicely with its cord wound around it very nicely in my bag without protrusion.

You pretty much state the REAL reason one shouldn't buy this adapter here:

buzmania said: "Different manufacturers including iGo and Targus have been making third-party adapters for Powerbooks for years. This has been convenient because the original Apple adapters are often expensive and sometimes hard to get. "

Targus and iGo are respected manufacturers and WOULD LICENSE the MagSafe connection properly from Apple. A lot of the iPod knockoffs that look exactly like the iPod and have almost identical functionality - also do NOT license Apple technology - is it right to buy them - even if they are BETTER and cheaper?

99.2% is not 99.5% like me ... LOL ;-)

buzmania said: "It is the responsibility of Apple to police unauthorized products that appear on the market and if they are not complaining to eBay about this, then what's the big deal? "

Apple has historically not policed the gray market - just as the US has historically not policed illegal immigration - I ask again - because it's not policed does that release one from responsibility?

buzmania said: "I say that it is unfair to users to be saddled with the high cost of a hard-to-get adapter that is literally one of a kind."

Well I don't like the speed limit ... I'll just go 90 in a school zone today!

Thanks for your comments, I'm purposely being comically critical here.

Anonymous said...

"Is it right to buy them?" Are you serious? It's fine. Apple is a multi-billion dollar multinational company. They do not care about me (otherwise why would Magsafe adapters only last a year and cost $80? Why would RAM be priced at $200 for 1 gig when I can get 2 gigs for $50 from Newegg?). Why on earth should I care about them?

Here is what I use my power adapter for:
1. Charging my Macbook.

Here are things I do not use it for:
1. Making myself feel good about the brand of computer I own.
2. Showing off to friends
3. Getting excited about lining the pockets of a corporation.

Seriously, you actually CARE if the product is licensed? Why? Do you have some sort of hypermaterialistic connection to a company? If so, that's pretty messed up.

FYT said...

You're obviously a troll ... but I'll respond anyway ... My MagSafe adapter has been fine. Apple's BTO options have always been high ... You have an OPTION to add extra RAM ... Apple's RAM is gauranteed ... third party ram is not. I have always bought my upgrades from other sources.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the "Troll" is a Troll, he's got a valid arguement. There is no engineering data you've presented identifying the eBay product as "unsafe". Ugly? yes. Unlicensed? yes. Unsafe? No evidence on this product.

FYI, you may be aware of the quality issues on Apple's own charger! The "real" charger frays at the magsafe end and plastic also melts. Check the apple forums ...

FYT said...

Actually I don't have to have a perspective from "an engineering" standpoint.

It looks shoddy and I know someone that has used one. It's build quality feels cheap.

Concerning forums... Apple consistently tops user satisfaction surveys ... And as a counterpoint ... there are forums at Mead paper products complaining about paper ... Let me say that again ... Complaining about paper!!!!!

Roman said...

Apple doesn't have to license the MagSafe, but they sure as hell sell the bare cable without the brick through their parts channels. So I could order 100 cables, stick them on 100 oddball bricks and not violate any patents. So it really all just comes down to it being "ugly".

FYT said...

Bzzzt ... try again ... Anyone selling Apple parts must be an authorized Apple reseller ... by your logic ... Kensington, Belkin, targus etc etc would all buy these pigtails and sell the heck out of adapters to fill a huge after market.

This doesn't stop some authorized resellers from secretly selling to the black market.

Since these eBay adapters are made in china ... I'd suspect there on the blackmarket factory direct.

Steve said...

I was told to come to this forum and view a comment on the Magsafe adapter concerning patent and copyright.

To Roman:

Not only does Apple hold a patent on the Magsafe adapter, but they also own a copyright AND trademark for the name Magsafe.

Not only could they pursue licensing but they could enforce the misappropriation of the name by anyone who releases a knock off.

Apple usually does this with its products because copyright is much easier to enforce than patent.

Does this mean I'm pleased that 3rd parties don't have an affordable more widely distributed adapter? No! I'm also not pleased with the speed limit; this selfish dissatisfaction doesn't mean I can go whatever speed I choose.

I'm a copyright and patent attorney and I wrote this message.

Roman said...

I don't see where they're claiming it to be an Apple product, although there are plenty of knock-offs out there. They're only saying that it uses an original Apple MagSafe cord (which Apple sold).

Does that mean that if I go and buy 100 iMacs, I can't re-sell them because I'm not an authorized re-seller? Apple better take a cruise through craigs list if that's the case.

Just trying to understand...

I don't even see why they sell the cord anyway. There doesn't seem to be a reasonable way to re-seal the brick once you've opened it.

FYT said...

Here's an example to understand:

If you go into a store and buy 100 Boxes of Little Debbie cakes ... can you get out on the street and sell each cake from the box individually ... the boxes are labelled ... "Not packaged for individual resale".

Any person selling a MagSafe cord is a gray market reseller.

My best way to explain this ... If it were legal we'd see at least 1/2 a dozen companies selling 3rd party Macbook chargers.

Another example:

Can I go to the store to buy 100 CDs of music and 100 CDRs, make my own compilations of music and resell them? People do it all the time - but it's illegal. Songs (and Apple's Magsafe adapter) are not licensed for individual resale.

FYT said...

To Roman:

Don't confuse Apple with selling the MagSafe pigtail with unauthorized gray market resellers.

I could order all the parts to make Macbook right now. That doesn't make me a licensed reseller.

Unknown said...

They "grey market" is legal, by definition. That's why it's not called the "black market."

The typical distinction is as to manufacturer's warranty. Wikipedia has a good article.

(The label "Not packaged for individual resale" is merely a warning to potential resellers, not a prohibition. It's the government that regulates that sort of thing, not Little Debbie.)

FYT said...

Absolutely, positively wrong ...

The gray market is usually NOT prosecuted.

If you are caught selling to gray market sellers you lose your ability to sell as authorized.

Food items FDA labelling isn't remotely similar to gray market selling.

Bottom line... These adapters are illegal because they circumvent patents.

Do I like it? No!

But, one of the top problems people bring Apple laptops in fir repair is power issues ... < 5 out of 10 have third party AC adapters or been using their ACs with weird car inverters or $1.99 closeout priced surge protectors.

Whether it seems like greed and profiteering on Apple's part ... There is a reason.

The MagSafe eliminated the "busted & broken" power port problem ... I think Apple wants to eliminate a bit of third party AC overload too.

Unknown said...

You brought up food labeling, not me..

There's nothing to prosecute in the gray market, except, possibly, copyright and/or trademark infringement (as the attorney above so kindly posted). He and I agree that there is no patent circumvention here.

Even copyright or trademark infringement, assuming Apple is suitably locally protected there, is probably not criminal in Hong Kong, which, again, means nothing to prosecute.

Apple granting or revoking "authorized" status has nothing to do with the legality of grey market products.

Nothing has been circumvented if those DC-side cords were originally sourced from Apple: the patent holder got its money, after all.

You may be suggesting that patents protect more than a manufacturing method and extend to selling and marketing the patented product. With this, I would firmly disagree.

FYT said...

Psystar is testing your theory right now.

It is 100% illegal by law to sell a product that requires authorization.

Otherwise ...Radio Shack, Walmart, & Target would be selling Apple computers ... at the very least ... the lower end models. Radio Shack would be selling Leopard and promoting it to hack onto netbooks. Radio Shack would be selling Magsafe adapters ... It's Radio Shacks # 1 sale = ac adapters. (And from personal polling of 8 local Radio Shacks a few months ago ... they sell about 10 adapters a month to iBook/Powerbook owners)

A manufacturer has complete linear control over it's sales.

IE GM closed 200 dealerships recently ... some of them currently profitable ... One of them had just completed an 3.5 million dollar expansion.

Don't take this as a combative statement ... but try arguing without ignorance of the law. Just because you THINK something is true or it's the way IT SHOULD BE ... doesn't mean it is.

Just an aside ... there is no law that says you must pay taxes ... there are just penalties if you don't ... some of this kind of law plays into affect here.