Psystar begs judge to rule it's legit

Mac clone maker wants Apple to stop saying it's breaking the law

The Mac clone maker that's been battling Apple for more than a year in federal court last week asked a judge to rule that its business is legitimate, and to stop Apple from saying different.

In an amended complaint submitted last Thursday, Psystar asked U.S. District Court Judge William Hoeveler to rule that it is legally allowed to sell machines with Apple's Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, pre-installed.

"A declaration by this Court of the legal rights of Apple and Psystar with respect to Psystar computers running Mac OS X Snow Leopard would clarify, to put it bluntly, the legality of Psystar's business -- and would remove the substantial negative effect on Psystar's business of continued uncertainty and legal wrangling between Apple and Psystar," the Florida clone maker said in the revised complaint filed in Miami, Fla. federal court.

Psystar originally sued Apple in Florida two months ago, when it claimed that Apple illegally ties the then-new Snow Leopard to Mac hardware.

According to the amended complaint, Psystar has been damaged by Apple's legal maneuvers in a case being heard in a California federal court. That lawsuit was filed by Apple in July 2008 , when it accused Psystar of copyright infringement and other violations of the law. That case is slated to go to jury trial on Jan. 11, 2010.

Psystar wants Hoeveler to make Apple stop saying that it's illegal for Psystar to purchase Snow Leopard on the open market, then use those copies to install the operating system on the computers it sells.

"[Apple's] violations of the federal antitrust acts have damaged and will damage Psystar in its business and property because they deny Psystar business that otherwise would go to Psystar by creating doubt about the legality of Psystar computers running Mac OS X Snow Leopard," the company's lawyer's contended. "The items of damage to Psystar include damage to Psystar's business reputation and to the reputation of its products and sales lost that could have been made absent Apple's attempts to restrict Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Macintoshes."

Psystar asked Hoeveler to slap an injunction on Apple that would prevent the California computer maker from "representing that Psystar's making and selling such computers is other than perfectly legal."

Elsewhere in the amended complaint, Psystar mentioned the moves it has recently made to license its cloning-capable technology to other computer makers, and to sell a utility, dubbed Rebel EFI , that lets owners of generic PCs install and run Apple's Snow Leopard. Psystar launched Rebel EFI two weeks ago .

Psystar maintained that Rebel EFI and its cloning technology are legitimate uses of software, and again said that both simply use features of Snow Leopard that Apple had purposefully included in its new OS.

"Psystar's position with respect to Mac OS X Snow Leopard is analogous to that of a person developing a software application to run on top of Mac OS X Snow Leopard," the company's lawyers argued. "Just as Microsoft writes Word to run with Mac OS X and Google writes its Web browser Chrome to run with Mac OS X, Psystar writes its software to run with Mac OS X Snow Leopard. In fact, the part of Mac OS X Snow Leopard that Psystar interacts with is within the open-source portion of Mac OS X and makes use of features of Mac OS X Snow Leopard designed to allow software developers to extend Mac OS X Snow Leopard to work with different hardware."

Apple may be planning to block at least some Intel-based computers from running Snow Leopard, if reports on the Web today are to be believed. According to several Apple enthusiast sites, including OS X Daily , at least one developer has claimed that the still-unfinished Mac OS X 10.6.2, the next scheduled update for Snow Leopard, will prevent the operating system from running on netbooks powered by Intel's low-priced Atom processor.

Apple has not yet responded to Psystar's original August lawsuit, or to the amended complaint filed last week.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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