Apple to Psystar: See you in court

Apple to Psystar: See you in court

Summary: Fellow ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes broke the story that Apple has finally had it up to here with the shenanigans of Mac cloner Psystar. By shenanigans I'm referring to the Florida company's practice of shipping its US$399 Intel clones with Mac OS 10.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, Mobility

Apple to Psystar: See you in courtFellow ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes broke the story that Apple has finally had it up to here with the shenanigans of Mac cloner Psystar. By shenanigans I'm referring to the Florida company's practice of shipping its US$399 Intel clones with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard pre-installed in direct violation of Apple's End User License Agreement (EULA).

Psystar has been shipping their wonderful cloned Macs (a.k.a. Hackintoshes) since April 2008 and I've been using one ever since – and it's performed well. Click on the Psystar category to read more of my previous coverage.

A report by's Ina Fried reveals that the suit was filed July 3 in U.S. District Court in Northern California but the complaint itself is not available. An Apple representative told Fried that "We take it very seriously when we believe people have stolen our intellectual property." Psystar has yet to comment, but clearly must have been expecting some sort of action eventually.

The real question is why Apple waited three months to file suit. Personally I think that they had their hands full with the iPhone 3G announcement and wanted to get that out of the way first.

What's your theory?

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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  • Predictable......

    This was predictable everyone knew Apple was going to sue it
    was just a matter of when.
  • I think Apple played this just right...

    If Psystar was just fly-by-night, why waste the time and energy? It would just risk bad press and make apple look heavy-handed. Instead, wait until they are out of the limelight and take the time to prepare a case.

    Psystar may go but Hackintoshes will persevere.
    Mac Hosehead
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    Why doesn't psystar settle in court with apple and have it NO MORE Pre-installed Mac OS X and the buyer MUST purchase a license in order to keep it legal on their 'Clones'. Apple taking this course of action would be 'smarter', less financially wastefull and could even charge more for their os x licencing since its not being installed on a 'Pure Virgin Apple' ?
    • Can't, not without giving away the farm

      If Apple allows OS X on anything other than Apple products they are screwed. There will be a dozen clone makes within a month, all charging less than Apple.

      Apple is playing bet the farm with this suit because if the EULA gets over turned they are in deep kaw kaw.
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    Apple is shooting themselves in the foot here from potential sales. This can bring low cost mac-like machines to a broader consumer base.
    Loverock Davidson
    • They don't want to bring cheap Macs to anyone

      They want to charge evryone the same exhorbitant price. And they want to supply the hardware themselves, not have someone else do it instead of them.

      They don't make the big bucks from OSX.

      Now, allowing cheaper computers to be out there with their OS would certainly allow them some market penetration, but I guess they're not interested.
      • and they have that right.

        because it is their product and they wrote the terms of use and anyone who chooses to use that product agrees to those terms. If they do not agree to those terms and still use it, they must understand that they are in violation of an agreement that they DID in fact enter into.
  • My theory

    App??e game plan.

    1. The fraud might die of its own accord and we have much more urgent work to complete.

    2. Let the usual suspects e.g. ZDNET spin App??e lots of free publicity.

    3. Find out how the OS protections were bypassed.

    4. Gather evidence for a bullet-proof court case and see how much money these guys have.

    5. Bury pissant, Pystar, whatever its called, so deep that no-one feels inclined to try the same stunt again.
    When I say bury I mean kill -9 :-(

    End plan.
    • My guess

      is that they don't want to kill Psystar, just stop them from selling Apple stuff. They're not an authorized reseller. Psystar can still go on selling their other goods and services.
  • Normal litigation delay

    Three months is "warp speed" when it comes to litigation. They would have first investigated, then sent it to their in-house lawyers to look at, then sent it to outside counsel, then discussed at the management level whether to sue, then sent a cease-and-desist demand with at least a 15-day deadline. Then management would look at it again, then instruct their outside counsel to sue. Then the outside counsel would prepare a complaint. They might send a "courtesy copy" with a second cease-and-desist letter. All of that takes a good deal of time.
  • I think the delay

    is because there is a real question about the legal validity of the EULA requirements.

    Apple is playing bet the farm with this suit!
    • how can there be questions about that?

      If I sell a product, and you agree to the terms, that's a contract. If I sell a product and make the terms available prior to sale, as in, either online, or in teh store, or any other place, and you agree to them by doing the thing that is spelled out in teh agreement as constituting agreement, like installing the software, you have bound yourself to that contract. If anyone is not willing to bind themselves to teh contract, they should not install teh software. IF they get so far into the installation as to read the EULA and decide they don't want to bind themselves to the contract, they should NOT install it. A contract is binding whether you like the terms or not. There are very few exceptions to binding terms, and they have more to do with requiring violation of laws and mental and legal capacity to sign contracts than whether someone likes them. For example, requiring in a contract that any party violate any law is not enforceable. And any contract signed or entered into by a minor is not enforceable (just ask Columbia House about that one.). And any contract deemed to have been entered into by any person not of sound mind will be hend to not be enforceable. There is a possibility that if the guardian of a minor or an incapacitated person was aware of the contract and did not prevent the execution of the contract, that the court may uphold the contract and hold the guardian responsible for the execution of it. But just not liking the terms will never render a contract unenforceable.
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    I would like to hear Apple defend its notion that its operating system, OS X, is a proprietary and integral part of its closed Mac ecosystem (i.e., its own hardware and software), when at the same time Apple, itself, decided to open up that ecosystem to allow Windows installations on its own hardware through the use of its in-house developed - Boot Camp.

    So it seems through one side its mouth, Apple is saying that a Mac isn't a PC, and through the other side of its mouth, it's saying "Well, it can be if you want it to be." While at the same time, they're saying "don't you dare even dream of loading our OS on someone else's hardware."

    What smug A-holes!
    Pyrrho of Elis
    • Apple wrote it, and therefore Apple can choose who uses it and how...

      You guys can all complain about how you think that
      Apple's EULA is unfair but the reality is that they wrote the
      software and therefore they can choose whom to sell
      licenses to and how it's used. That's the nature of software
      licenses. Remember you are buying a *license* to use the
      software. You don't own it, you are merely renting it
      temporarily. They can revoke that license at any time for
      any reason they so desire. They own the software. They
      paid the salaries of the engineers who wrote it and so they
      can do whatever they want with it.

      So complain all you want but they are well within their
      rights here, folks!
      • re:Apple wrote it, and therefore Apple can choose who uses it and how...

        You're basing your statement on nothing more than an assumption the Apple's EULA will stand up to a legal challenge. To date, it hasn't been tested in the courts, so your statements are nothing but conjecture.

        Look at what one of Apple's former attorneys has to say about the issue:

        [/i]... while Psystar may be violating Apple's end user license agreement, or EULA, by doing this, legally there's not much Apple can do about it, says Raj Abhyanker, a patent lawyer who used to write patents for Apple.[/i]

        and, [i]In terms of a deterrent, Abhyanker says suing another company for violating a contract doesn't even come close to a tort or patent infringement case.

        "Those types of litigation ultimately have a lot more remedies for a plaintiff," he says. "But if you look at breach of contract, it's usually limited (depending on the state) to the amount of services or the amount of goods as subject to the contract. The maximum damage Apple would be able to claim is the price of Leopard -- actually, the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) price of Leopard, which might be a few dollars."[/i]
        Pyrrho of Elis
        • evidently it's worth doing

          or Apple wouldn't be doing it.

          There's also a HUGE difference between going after a software pirate who bums a system disk off his buddy and someone who is in it for profit.
      • Buy not equal to license

        If they go out and buy a physical box with the software media in it without signing anything, I think it's obvious that the OWN that physical copy. Property law dictates what they can do with that physical box, not license agreements.

        The box also contains a proposal for a license agreement. In Swedish law, and I believe most other countries as well, it's totally clear that buying the software in itself can not be regarded as an agreement to this license, as key requirements in contract law is missing (i.e. the license can't be enforced by law). Now, the question is, if you don't agree, what are you allowed to do by law? Basically, as long as you are withing the limits of copyright laws I think you would be safe. If Psystar is in compliance with copyright laws, I haven't the faintest.
        XP user
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    For one thing, it doesn't match Apple's business plan. Apple is NOT a company that makes an OS to be sold for general use, it makes an OS to improve the value of the hardware it designs and has assembled.

    Also, if they gave approval for any non-Mac computer to run OSX, they'd have far less control over the design of that system than they do over the Macs. Certainly this would "dilute" the exclusive feel of owning a Mac, but it would also force Apple to care more about hardware that they otherwise could ignore, because it now could wind up loaded into any clone Mac, and conceivable create any number of driver problems that might soil the Mac's trouble free image.

    Plus there's the simple fact that by Apple's take, every person buying an OpenComputer was choosing not to spend more for an Apple system.
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    I cannot comment on Psystar, I've never seen one. But I can say that a well thought out hackintosh will provide you with a top end mac for less than a budget end genuine mac, with a bit of your time and effort. If you like leopard and you like doing things like this ( you're a tech-head) it will be worth the effort. If you are not a tech-head or your time is short and you like leopard...go and buy the mac you want...and it will be worth the cost. If you don't know whether you like leopard and you have suitable dual core hardware available and you have time ( like sizeable chunks ) and like searching forums and suchlike, build yourself a hackintosh and find out. Apple are unlikely to come after you and probably hope you seduce yourself into changing to mac. If you love leopard you'll probably buy a mac eventually when you get over spending 15 hours getting a hackintosh right!
  • RE: Apple to Psystar: See you in court

    This is why apple will always be second rate!