Confirmed: Apple files suit against Psystar

Confirmed: Apple files suit against Psystar

Summary: I don't have a lot of information on this yet but it seems that Apple has grown tired of Apple-clone Psystar and has filed suit against the Florida company at the federal district court for the northern district of California.

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TOPICS: CXO, Apple, IT Employment
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LATEST: Apple wants Psystar to snatch back Mac clones from customers!

[UPDATE 07/15 14:15pm PDT: A note to those who think that this suit is about EULAs ... Psystar did a LOT more than breach the terms of the EULA. The company, through its own admission, modified the copyrighted work, then distributed those modifications without license and for commercial purposes. The company also used at least one Apple trademark in its marketing.

If this was just about the EULA, Apple's case might not be that strong (remember, the EULA's never been tested in court), but this goes way beyond the EULA.]

It seems that Apple has grown tired of Mac-clone Psystar and has filed suit against the Florida company at the federal district court for the northern district of California.

psystar_logo.pngThe initial imformation came my way via lawyer Jorge Espinosa's blog (he's a lawyer who specializes in domestic and international protection of trademarks and copyrights):

Apple, Inc., manufacturer of the well known line of computers and software, filed suit on July 3 in the federal district court for the northern district of California against Florida company Psystar, Inc.   The suit alleges counts for violation of its shrink wrap license, trademark and copyright infringement.

Apple vs Psystar 

I think that this pretty much spells the end for Psystar. The company has been pushing its luck for some time now, and now the fun is over.

Downloads (PDFs): 

Larry Dignan over on Between the Lines believes that the complaint isn't available because the case is sealed ... we'll have to wait and see.

[UPDATE 07/15 10:30 am PDT: Seems the complaint is available.  No electronic copy yet. Larry Dignan has posted the gist of it:

"We have the complaint–sorry it’s hard copy–but will post excerpts in an upcoming post. Here’s the short version: Apple is great. Psystar isn’t. Psystar used Apple’s intellectual property and diluted the Apple brand to boot."

Pretty much as expected then.]

[UPDATE 07/15 11:45am PDT: Sam Diaz has information about the complaint here.

"The 16-page document, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, states that, in April of this year, Psystar began selling a computer called OpenMac (later renamed Open Computer), which apparently runs a “modified unauthorized version of the Leopard operating system.” It further alleges that, in June, Psystar began selling rack-mount servers called the OpenServ 100 and Open Serv 2400 - products that again run Leopard."

Not only did Psystar cut in on Apple's desktop business, but also on the server segment - not a good idea. But it gets worse for Psystar:

"At the heart of the complaint, though, is the allegation that Psystar’s products are junk and are harming Apple because they are 'advertised and promoted in a manner that falsely and unfairly implies an affiliation with Apple.'"

Apple is also worried about quality. Here's a quote from the complaint:

"Online commentators have reported that Psystar’s computer is “missing stuff like iLife, Bluetooth. an IR receiver, DVD burning and the ability to update your computer,” is “LOUD, Crazy Loud,” it “breaks the OS’ automatic updates,” and that “video was DOA right out of the box. No signal going to monitor Boot up is moot point as there is nothing to see.” Of Psystar itself reviewers have written “they have no quality control,” “lousy tech support,” and “All I want to do is return the computer and get a refund.” Likewise, it has been reported that Psystar has repeatedly changed location, this its office could not be found and that its first on-line payment processor terminated Psystar’s account."]

[poll id=322]

I'll keep you updated.

Topics: CXO, Apple, IT Employment

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445 comments
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  • This may end the US based Mac clones

    But it is a big, big world and other countries don't honor the US's laws. I would not be feeling to secure about my overseas markets if I was Apple.
    zmud
    • maybe not

      Psystar had I good idea, but fialed in practice. One, NEVER preinstall a generic OSX and sell it it violates law. You can sell hardware that is compatible with a generic OSX cause it's just components and sell a retail OSX for the customer to do the cracking them selves and even then it's a legal Grey area. What will spell the end to MAC clones is for Apple to take the model of Microsoft and sell a generic version. They WILL make alot of money nearly overnight if they did so and make them truly competitive.
      raptorep
      • Remember Corona?

        Most people don't. They were on the receiving end of a similar lawsuit by IBM - for "stealing" the BIOS and illegally reproducing it. They were forced out of business, but eventually won the case, as their team had reproduced the functionality of the BIOS without ever seeing the original code.

        That case - even though Corona didn't survive it - made it clear that there was a LEGAL way to make a clone. Then we got Columbia and even Compaq. Eventually, that will happen with Apple, too.

        There's also the old AT&T vs DATRAN case that eventually caused Wyly Corporation to declare Chapter 7 (and close DATRAN), but set the stage for the eventual breakup of Ma Bell (DATRAN was all about long distance transmission of data, not voice). Imagine where the internet would be without that decision!

        Don't be fooled by the short term impact of court cases. Sometimes it takes a while for the full impact to be visible. Just remember to read the final decisions by the court VERY carefully!
        ProfTom
        • Forgot Corona - remember Columbia quite well

          I guess I forgot the Corona. I remember the Columbia very well. I used to haul it back and forth to work on the 17th floor of the Grace Building on 42nd Street and 6th Avenue from New Jersey on the bus and on the train. It was heavier than my Osborne 1 but the Osborne was over when DOS became king (and CPM became ancient history). It also had a bigger screen and more RAM. It was still a two 5 1/4" Floppy system like my old Osborne but it also used the new double-sided double-density (360KB) disks.

          My Osborne 1 had single sided disks ... hmm does that mean it only had 90KB floppies? ... nah I'll bet that even though the diskettes later became double sided they still only had read-write heads on one side. Anyone recall?
          rburtnick
        • Yes, but

          "That case - even though Corona didn't survive it - made it
          clear that there was a LEGAL way to make a clone. Then we
          got Columbia and even Compaq. Eventually, that will
          happen with Apple, too. "

          Yes, there's a legal way to make a clone. You reverse
          engineer the functionality in a 'clean room' environment.
          That's what Compaq did and that's why IBM lost.

          In this case, however, they did no such thing. They took
          Apple's code and modified it. That clearly does NOT fall
          under acceptable fair use.
          jragosta
      • The problem with Pystar is

        They were selling an upgrade license on a new computer.
        Apple doesn't sell licenses for any computers. The license
        comes when you buy your Mac. The $100 to $129 copies
        of OSX are upgrades for licensed computers. The only
        licensed computers are Macs.

        I don't think this necessarily means the end of Mac clones.
        Like many lawsuits, both parties may become business
        partners, but Apple is negotiating from a very powerful
        position and may be able to command a large fee for a
        license to distribute OSX, which means that if Pystar
        intends to stay in business, they will need to raise their
        prices substantially. If you install Windows Vista on a Mac
        and run it in a virtual Window you will have to pay a couple
        of hundred dollars for a Vista Professional license. Apple
        likewise could command a pretty good fee to license new
        computers. They let Pystar go long enough to put Apple in
        a very powerful position and an opportunity to make a lot
        of money pretty quickly. Apple like Microsoft loves to
        make money and they are good at it. Whatever happens to
        Pystar, Apple wins.
        MacGeek2121
    • China and Russia would be problematic...

      ...because they might choose to allow their domestic computer companies to reverse-engineer Macs simply as a thumb in our eye - to show the world that there are limits to America's ability to protect its companies' intellectual property. As it is, China is very nearly an anarchic territory where WIPO and intellectual property are concerned.

      If the Chinese timed their marketing right, they could push out millions of bootleg Macs before Apple could react; they and the Russians also have the coding talent to produce an OS for a Mac clone that at least on the surface might be legally defensible.

      Their market? India, the Pacific Rim, EMEA, Latin America... lots of territory where Apple has a small market share, and where their ability to enforce an intellectual property lawsuit is weaker than it is here.

      The EU might be inclined to not enforce Apple's copyrights and patents on the same grounds that it now is imposing those swingeing fines on Microsoft at present - that Apple has a defacto monopoly (their grounds for making that finding are at least as strong as their case against Microsoft is (in other words, very weak legally and in equity, but politically very, very strong in that they could get away with it).

      If a European firm came up with a Mac clone (the way that Rick Shuttlesworth has come up with Ubuntu, an OS that on the face of it competes with Windows) there would be considerable political momentum for a challenge to Apple's copyrights and other intellectual property protections.

      Eventually, we're going to regret not defending Microsoft's rights to do business in Europe. It wasn't so much that we avoided a trade war as we lost a unilateral trade war with Europe when they imposed that huge fine on Microsoft. Now Apple is set up to suffer the same damage any time that the EU decides to either invent a copyright case against Apple or just fail to hold up their end of the treaties protecting operating systems like Leopard and the Mac's other design properties.
      jlafitte
  • Adrian, the hater of Psystar

    He seems to have a secret hatred against Psystar.

    First, according to him, it was not a legitimate company, then he tried to convince us that it was not worth it because of "the package". In the same post he claimed that since it was not possible to receive updates then, the clone was useless. That was wrong of course. Now, he predicts the end of Psystar. Yeah, he is no judge, but he thinks this lawsuit "pretty much spells the end for Psystar". Why? Maybe he is just bitter he spent $$ on the mac mini that he uses as paperweight? Just my theory.

    I guess that if he is right (for the first time) about the end of Psystar he will follow up with a bombastic and triumphant post bashing the cloner. But if he is is wrong one more time (and I hope he is), he will be no where to be found. Or maybe he should extend an apology in that case?
    markbn
    • Aah, I was forgetting

      Before some idiot claims I work for Psystar, please let me tell everybody I do not have any cover interest in that company: I do not work for them, I am not one of the investors, etc.
      markbn
      • So ...

        ... you're just standing up for the little guy?
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • No ...

          ... just giving my unbiased opinion.
          markbn
          • Unbiased opinion? LOL!!!

            markbn,
            You are like the people who claim to be pro-life while going out of your way to hide the fact that your beliefs are religious. Calling the Mac Mini a "paper weight" is just more tripe from the disgruntled PC-user crowd. Those of us who actually use Macs on a regular basis know how good Apple products are. It doesn't require being a fanboy to know this, it comes from personal experience.

            Your attack on Adrian was so unwarranted and irrelevant as to be completely laughable in the overall scheme of things. Surely you could've picked a topic you were more familiar with. Like how Vista sucks in comparison to Leopard. LOL. All this hoopla and Vista's Explorer window appears like an archeological find compared to Leopard. Truly, very few people are defending Vista anymore. Including Microsloth. Given your obvious disdain for Mac products, I had to point a few things out. Good job Adrian for reporting the truth.
            3dtodd
          • good piont, however...

            I work with both mac and pc, the only thing that makes them different is the GUI interface. MAC has a very good front-end GUI, Vista also a good GUI but not as good as MAC. They BOTH crash, freeze, and crap out at the SAME rate. the only reason MAC appears more stable is that they specifically design it to a specific set of hardware and so no capability issues. Downside to MAC, VERY expensive and limited selection of hardware. Cause of this Apple will NEVER reach the same level of software support or customization to need as a cheaper Microsoft powered PC until they compete on the same level with a generic version of OSX.
            raptorep
          • I actually like Apple hardware better

            I could care less about the differences in the OSs. I think Apple implements hardware better (based on my definition of better). Both OSes are pretty workable.

            But I definitely agree with you that you are way more restricted with Apple as to the number of apps, hardware compatibility and such.

            And yes they both crash and hacker contests show that both can be cracked. So far, the mac has been cracked more quickly. But there are more attacks on Windows.

            If it were my mother it would be a Mac, and some of my daughters. It they lean to a more technical side it is going to be a PC with Windows. and perhaps linux too.
            DevGuy_z
          • Compatibility

            "But I definitely agree with you that you are way more
            restricted with Apple as to the number of apps, hardware
            compatibility and such."

            That is incorrect - at least as far as apps is concerned.

            Macs can run Windows or Linux natively, so they can run
            virtually the entire spectrum of apps. Windows or Linux PCs
            can not run Mac OS X software, so THEY are more limited.
            jragosta
          • Technically, your correct that Mac hardware

            can run Windows and Linux on it. However, there is no such thing as a Windows or Linux PC. Windows and Linux are OSes for the PC. Besides, in order to run Windows programs natively on a Mac, you have to buy a license to the Windows OS. So, you maybe able to run the software on Mac hardware, but you have to do so at an additional cost. If I going to buy a Mac to run Windows, then it's a waste of money. I can buy the same hardware and build a PC system or I can buy an equivalent PC system with Windows pre-installed.
            alaniane
          • yep unbiased

            ========
            You are like the people who claim to be pro-life while going out of your way to hide the fact that your beliefs are religious.
            ========

            Nonsense.

            ========
            Calling the Mac Mini a "paper weight" is just more tripe from the disgruntled PC-user crowd.
            ========

            No, you are wrong. I did not call the Mac mini a paperweight, I called Adrian's Mac mini that. Big difference. And by the way, that was only a guess, did you read that?

            ========
            Those of us who actually use Macs on a regular basis know how good Apple products are. It doesn't require being a fanboy to know this, it comes from personal experience.
            ========

            Go back to high school and learn to read.

            ========
            Your attack on Adrian was so unwarranted and irrelevant as to be completely laughable in the overall scheme of things.
            ========

            I just gave my opinion.


            ========
            Surely you could've picked a topic you were more familiar with. Like how Vista sucks in comparison to Leopard. LOL. All this hoopla and Vista's Explorer window appears like an archeological find compared to Leopard. Truly, very few people are defending Vista anymore. Including Microsloth. Given your obvious disdain for Mac products, I had to point a few things out. Good job Adrian for reporting the truth.
            ========

            What does Leopard vs Vista have to do with my posts? What are you smoking?
            markbn
          • "Unbiased Opinion" is an oxymoron

            Opinions are not facts, they're opinions. They're INHERENTLY biased because they come from one person's point of view.

            Claiming to be unbiased while making judgemental statements is self-contradictory.
            bmerc
          • Does not change a thing

            Psystar is a legal business, not a phantom one
            The claim that all Open Computers are noisy is wrong
            The Open Computer is just that, a computer capable or running Linux, Vista and OS X (with an emulator), so I don't see it being more a knockoff that Adrian's current preferred computer.

            Live with it.
            markbn
          • Oh, and by the way

            ======
            Given your obvious disdain for Mac products, I had to point a few things out.
            ======

            I have been using Macs since 1996 with PowerPC machines, then the first iMac, later iMac G5 and now a PowerBook G4. I do not have any "disdain" of Apple products. Apart from that I have used Windows well before 1996 and currently use also Linux (mainly for server side tasks and for development). I am no "fanboy" of anything. On the contrary, that label seems more appropriate to you.
            markbn