Apple Magsafe Patent to Keep out 3rd parties?

My old iBook’s power adapter has been the unfortunate victim of my feline friend’s wire-chewing habits, which I cannot figure out how to stop. Of course, this was after the original Apple-designed adapter was replaced with a much less expensive one. The Apple adapter suffered the very popular problem of fraying and burning from the inside out after casual use, before the cat could even get to it. The 3rd party one worked well, until furball made it lunch. I am glad that the 3rd party adapters that smalldog.com sells for iBooks and Powerbooks only cost $35, while Apple’s are an outrageous price, sometimes $80!

Apple has patented their new MagSafe design, and it’s really cool, but what will this mean for 3rd party adapters? Can other companies copy the design to make replacement power adapters for Apple’s computers? If the MagSafe adapters are just as bad as mine was, will it fray after a year of use, just out of standard warranty? I want to be able to buy a $35 adapter someday, if my cat chews on the existing one. Apple would be wise to not prevent that. The adapter is $80 on the store online, and there are reports of the same kinds of damage (fraying, weakening, breaking) as the old power adapters. There aren’t any 3rd party adaptors yet, as far as I can tell. Is Apple trying to make sure it stays that way?

(And, no, I will not be replacing or getting rid of the cat. Not an option. Any suggestions, short of hurting her, to get her to stop the wire chewing?)

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