Mac clone maker Psystar has scored a small but significant win in its seven-month legal battle with Apple. A federal judge has ruled that the small Florida-based clone-builder company can continue its countersuit against the Cupertino giant.
To make things worse for Apple, legal papers show that US District Court Judge William Alsup has also suggested that if Psystar can prove the allegations made in the countersuit, not only would this help Psystar's care, it could also allow other companies to load Mac OS X onto Mac clones and sell them legally.
Apple contends that copyright misuse may only be asserted as a defense, not as a counterclaim. This order is unconvinced, however, that misuse may never be asserted as a counterclaim for declaratory relief. PsyStar may well have a legitimate interest in establishing misuse independent of Apple’s claim against it,for example, to clarify the risks it confronts by marketing the products at issue in this case or others it may wish to develop. Moreover, if established, misuse would bar enforcement (for the period of misuse) not only as to defendants who are actually a party to the challenged license but also as to potential defendants not themselves injured by the misuse who may have similar interests. [emphasis added]
In other words, you could see Mac clones being legally sold by not only Psystar but other OEMs, something which would be good for Mac market share but could be a disaster for Apple. Think about it. Apple's business model is based on the idea of selling a product - hardware + software - and if the courts do in fact rule against the EULA and break that product down into the constituent parts then Apple finds itself forced into Microsoft's position of having to sell an OS and support a much larger ecosystem of hardware.
Apple has so far operated in a vacuum but competition from third-party OEMs would also put pressure on Apple to cut prices, which would be great for consumers but again bad for Apple. There's money in the Mac ecosystems, and OEMs know it. Looking at possible effects beyond Apple, a legal ruling against the EULA could spark off wider legal challenges to other EULAs
Psystar now has a week to submit the updated counterclaim, and then Apple has a further 20 days to answer the counterclaim.