It takes a lot of gall and apparently very little fear of legal consequences to copy an Apple product design while portraying it as your own — then using crowdfunding support to bring it to market. But that’s what Dune Case is attempting with Dune Pro, a PC enclosure that clones Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro desktop computer, with hopes to lure Kickstarter backers into the endeavor. And Kickstarter is seemingly unconcerned.
Apple famously introduced the new Mac Pro at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, revealing the “completely redesigned” tower as its top-of-line macOS computer. Featuring a striking new stainless steel and aluminum enclosure, the 2019 model resembles an oversized cheese grater, replacing a smaller prior design that looked like a small trash can. Apple will sell the new model for $5,999 and up, with at least U.S.-bound configurations undergoing final assembly in Austin, Texas.
Dune Pro appears to copy almost every element of Apple’s design, including steel handles and feet that sit above and below and an aluminum central housing. A removable front panel with a fine mesh panel can be replaced with an nearly identical clone of the Mac Pro’s front design called the “Dice Y cover,” which is specifically designed to dampen sound from self-supplied fans.
Dune Case says the product will hit Kickstarter on October 21, and has already seeded nearly finished prototypes to publications and video producers — including ones that are conveniently forgetting to mention that the design was copied from Apple. But while Kickstarter is aware of the situation, it doesn’t appear to be taking any action to stop it.
Contacted for comment last week, a Kickstarter representative today seemed to shrug off the situation. “The DMCA provides a framework for online disputes over intellectual property,” the crowdfunding site told VentureBeat. “If someone believes a Kickstarter project infringes on their intellectual property, they can follow the steps here. Outside of that, it’s really up to backers to decide whether a project is something they want to support.”
The risks may be growing for both Kickstarter and its project creators. Last week, iPad keyboard maker Brydge sued Kickstarter and China-based company Sentis over Libra, a crowdfunded accessory that uses a trackpad and keyboard to turn an “iPad Pro into a MacBook.” Brydge claims that Sentis is infringing its protected designs, and that Kickstarter is facilitating the infringement by giving the company a global platform for the product.
Unlike Sentis, Dune is pulling the tail of Apple itself rather than an Apple accessory maker, and omitting most of the internal components that make the new Mac Pro work. Instead of copying Apple’s custom heat sink, fan system, and power supply, Dune Pro claims that it’s giving customers the “power to choose” their own internals — including CPUs with even more cores than the top-of-line Mac Pro’s 28-core Intel Xeon processor, as well as new, large GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. Users will be able to select from Mini ITX, ATX, mATX, EATX, and EEB motherboards, while enjoying access to comparable USB ports, drive trays, and the like.
Dune Case previously attempted and failed to seek Kickstarter funding for a clone of the last-generation Mac Pro, raising only $75,283 of its $130,000 goal despite largely copying the look of Apple’s smallest professional desktop machine. The campaign ran from February to March 2016, gaining less than 500 backers for the enclosure, which it promised to deliver for less than $200 in customers’ choice of black or gold colors. It’s unclear whether any units of the prior case actually shipped.
Apple has not responded to a request for comment on Dune Pro. We will update this article if we hear back from the company.