Re: Historic potential ?
"Didn't some early PC clones have a different engineered BIOS but use the same APIs ?"
Indeed. Here's an article describing the situation. https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/news/how-compaqs-clone-computers-skirted-ibms-patents-and-gave-rise-to-eisa/
According to the article, Compaq worked out the IBM PC BIOS API by experimentation. I imagine that's correct. However, my frequently faulty memory tells me that they actually had some folks analyze IBM's published, but copyrighted, source code and write a spec. Then they had different folks write a BIOS from the spec. Maybe I made that up. Or maybe someone else -- Phoenix perhaps -- did that.