Psystar scores small but significant win against Apple

Psystar scores small but significant win against Apple

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

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]

[poll id="423"]

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.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Der PC mit Mac OS X

    In German Law, the Apple EULA is deemed invalid.

    German translation of pearc FAQ section:

    A German company is offering Mac OS X clones built to order with OS X 10.5 pre-installed.

    The move is unlikely to win friends with Apple who have been pursuing US company Psystar over a similar offer to supply clone computers, known as ?Hackintosh machines?.

    Starting at ?500, around ?438, the PearC is highly customisable with a top-of-the-line desktop starting at ?1499, around ?1,313.

    The option of a super fast Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition will set you back an extra ?719.99 or ?631.

    Like the US Psystar offers the PearC deal seems legally dubious although makers HyperMegaNet UG, based in Wolfsburg claims to have discovered a loophole in German law to allow the sale of clones without elaborating.

    A FAQ, in German, claims all is legal and above board.

    Q. Is it legal that to install Mac OS X on a PC?
    A. We would not offer our PearCs, if we of the opinion that it is legal.

    One German enthusiast suggests Apple?s Software License Agreement would not be valid under German law due to anti-monopoly legislation, and the same would apply to any European country that shares similar laws.

    Meanwhile the Apple Vs. Psystar battle rumbles on.

    Psystar has long claimed that consumers have had to pay more for a computer running Mac OS X than they would have if Apple had not tied the operating system to its own hardware.

    "Apple is free to control and charge customers supra-competitive prices," said Psystar.

    A third Mac clone maker, Open Tech, began offering Intel-based computers last summer although without the Mac OSX pre-installed.

    • Yeah ...

      ... Apple's is unlikely to go kicking off in the europe for fear of attracting the attention of the EU's Eye of Sauron ...
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • I Say What's Good For The Goose

        Is good for the gander?
    • Pear PC is not an END USER

      EULA applies to END USER only.

      A clone maker is not even close to end user so
      any exemptions applying to end user would be
      • small correction

        It's PearC, not Pear PC, different company.
  • RE: Psystar scores small but significant win against Apple

    I hope Psystar wins. Microsoft it being nit picked by the EU for Media Player, Internet Explorer, etc. Why should apple say that you must only run their software on Apple hardware when you can purchase the OS boxed in the store?

    That would be like Ford saying that you can only use Exxon gas in their vehicles or you are violating their agreement/warranty.
  • This is a mixed issue.

    On one side, we have a giant company locking people out of mass distribution of it's technology. While This is admirable, I think we should admit that the age of tying an OS to a Machine has passed.

    Yet strangely enough Apple is gaining ground and market share. I want to see Psystar win so that Apple will try and become more competitive, but I also want to see Apple get credit for their OS, and they seem determined to draw the maximum amount they can from any computer they sell. While I am rooting for Psystar, I don't want Apple to come out dinged by this and decide to move to some other platform.
    • You said it:

      [i]On one side, we have a giant company locking people out of mass distribution of [b]it's technology.[/b][/i]

      OS X is Apple's technology/property and therefore Apple has every right to place restrictions on its distribution.
  • Mac OS X is Apple's!

    Are we really at 2009?
    I thought the law had cought up by now and is able to protect the citizens from pirates and thieves who want to make a fortune quickly based on someone else's hard work.

    I think that at the end common sense will win, in Germany too.
    • re: Mac OS X is Apple's!

      [i]I thought the law had cought up by now and is able to protect the citizens from pirates and thieves who want to make a fortune quickly based on someone else's hard work.[/i]

      And here I was under the impression Psystar paid for those copies of OS X.... Silly me. I should have known they went out and stole them from the local BB. [/sarcasm]
    • You are overlooking the fact that...

      ...Psystar buys OS X *retail*. :) That means they pay Apple $129 for every copy of OS X.

      Hardly piracy if you pay someone's asking price, hmm?
      • Then Apple will quit selling OS X retail.

        only with one of their machines.
        • I'm surprised they haven't already (nt)

        • that's my view.

          They sell the OS separately from the computer, they do not check that you own a Mac.

          Simply stating that they do not provide support for running OSX on other hardware would eliminate any 'extra cost' from people using it.

          Consumers would come out ahead, Mac would come out ahead by having more people purchase software.

          I would never buy a Mac, simply because I see them as way overpriced for what you get, but I may buy OSX if I could run it on my computer. And that itself would put some cash in their coffers that they'd never see otherwise.


          • But there's a big risk involved in doing that

            right now, Apple makes a profit from retail sales of OS X to people who have allready put a profit into Apple's pocket by buying a Mac.

            That's great as they made money both times.

            Now, how much money would Apple lose if people just went out and bought OS X instead of buying the entire Mac, monitor and all?

            At a $129.00, there can't be nearly a big a profit in that as opposed to the markup for the machine itself.

            Remember, Apple's a hardware company
            John Zern
      • Which wouldn't be a problem, except...

        Which wouldn't be a problem, except they sold OS X installed on the
        computer. When Psystar starts modifying the code of the OS, installs it
        on a computer, then sells the computer with the OS installed on it,
        they're a reseller. If Psystar wants to be a reseller, they need to abide by
        Apple's terms of agreement.
    • OS X runs on commodity PC hardware and half of it came from open source.

      It can't be all Apple's.

      Heck, give me any Linux distribution with GNOME and I can make it look like a very reasonable facsimile of an OS X desktop in 5 minutes.

      IBM lost a suit it threw against Compaq because Compaq also took commodity hardware and reversed-engineered the BIOS. That's nothing by comparison. The precedent is there. Apple has no case worth coughing over.
      • Apple are on borrowed time...

        and have been for some time. Based on the many precedents in this case I fully expect them to lose. All they can do is to either stop selling the software, or make it so expensive that no one would want to buy it anyway, otherwise they're going to be fair game.
  • RE: Psystar scores small but significant win against Apple

    If Psystar wins, I expect to see 2 retail price points for OS X, the "upgrade" and "full" versions. This is good news for consumers who want to run OS X, but can't afford a Mac.

    In this case I'd expect MicroSoft to be rooting for Apple, because Apple should certainly gain marketshare.

    I still don't think Psystar will win, but it would make things very interesting.
  • Driver hell on its way to Mac OS

    I don't use a Mac so it doesn't really bother me, but for those of you whom like Mac OS and would like to get it with some cheaper hardware then beware of "driver hell". Eventually Mac OS will have the same driver issues as Windows and other operating systems, where driver support creates a bloated OS and your Mac OS will no longer "just work". Users will have tons of compatibility issues with all of their different hardware and there'll be more lawsuits forcing Apple to become more open. Eventually Apple will be forced to become a company very different from the one you know today and the concentrated attack against Microsoft will be diluted and fade into non existence.
    General C#