A Pox Upon Thee, Psystar..!

Apple seems pretty miffed, and has filed one heck of a law suit…

Last month, Chris Gavula posted on Gear Diary about the lawsuit that Apple filed against Mac clone maker, Psystar. Details of the suit are finally emerging, and from what I’ve read so far, it doesn’t look good for the clone maker.

Chris originally filed this story about 2 weeks ago, and interestingly enough, I haven’t seen too much on this since.  Yes, you’re right, there’s been one or two little articles here and there about how they have a decent lawyer (the firm has taken Apple on before and won), but that’s about it.

The Mac clone maker hit the streets in April or so of this year, and rocked the world with a 1980’s-esque introduction of the popular computer. They answered the begged question on the tip of anyone’s tongue: can OSX run on any box with compatible hardware?  The answer is yes and no. There are specific drivers that are needed, and Software Update (Apple’s version of Windows/Microsoft Update) won’t run without some tweaking on Psystar’s part.

Apple isn’t just trying to get Psystar to stop selling Mac clones. It’s seeking financial damages AND an injunction requiring the hardware assembler to recall all of its machines. Apple’s 16 page complaint (short and sweet..?) indicates that Psystar intentionally set out to harm Apple, as well as confuse the public.  Specifically, Psystar is accused of 10 different violations of its EULA and California law:

  • Copyright Infringement,
  • Contributory and Induced Copyright Infringement,
  • Breach of Contract,
  • Inducing Breach of Contract,
  • Two Claims of Trademark Infringement,
  • "Trade Dress" Infringement,
  • Trademark Dilution,
  • Unfair Competition Under California Law, And
  • Unfair Competition Under Common Law.

Apple claims that its licensing agreement specifically prohibits the use of Mac OSX on anything but Apple related hardware. "Apple has never authorized Psystar to install, use, or sell the Mac OS software on any non-Apple labeled hardware."

Officially, Apple wants relief and is asking to recover unspecified damages, including profits from the sale of Psystar’s Open Computer.  Basically, they want the company shut down, but have stopped short of saying or demanding that.  All of the relief elements, however, will leave Psystar little room but to shut down, if they lose the case.  They aren’t big enough to survive something like that; and considering how they came on the scene (finicky website that went up and down, a dysfunctional web store that couldn’t and wouldn’t accept credit cards correctly, facility issues causing the IT industry to wonder if they were legitimate, etc.), loss of this case could mean the end of the company.

I’m going to be watching this situation and will be interested to know if little ol’ Psystar really is causing Apple all the damage they claim they are; or if the company really is just a front for this court case where the end result is to bust open Apple’s monopoly on their own OS so that Apple becomes much like Microsoft – they license their OS to computer manufacturers/assemblers and consumers get to choose the brand of box they run the OS on.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this, especially that last part… Does Psystar plan on staying in business, or did they hit the scene just to challenge Apple’s hold on OSX?

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