Tag Archives | Psystar

Apple vs. Psystar is Not Over

Today Apple reached a deal with Mac clone maker Psystar ahead of a federal court case that could have granted Apple an injunction forbidding Psystar from preinstalling Apple’s OS X software on its products. However, the settlement was very specific to what it actually settled, which means the companies will continue the legal wrangling.

Psystar is paying Apple $2.7M in damages to avoid a trial. That takes the immediate threat of a federal injunction off the table, but the overarching dispute remains. It is also likely that Psystar, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, won’t pay the settlement until its appeals have been exhausted.

I have not seen the terms of the agreement, and wonder whether any of the claims were dismissed without prejudice. Apple charged Pystar of breach of contract, copyright infringement, and violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act; Psystar made counterclaims of copyright misuse and unenforceability.

“It looks like it isn’t really a settlement as much as a narrowing of the issues in dispute,” said Mark A. Lemley, director of Stanford Law School’s Program in Law, Science, and Technology, in reference to today’s agreement. “The issues that are outstanding are (1) the core legal issues, which are on appeal, and (2) whether the injunction would apply to future Psystar products,” he added in a follow up e-mail.

Many issues (and the “what is the point” question) remained unsettled, and will be weighed by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Apple has also not yet taken any action against Psystar’s Rebel EFI software, which allows end users to install copies of OS X on unauthorized generic hardware.

This convoluted, bumpy ride will continue. If you want a Mac, buy it from Apple, or, if so inclined, check in with the Hackintosh community.


Psystar Thought It Could Sell Twelve Million Mac Clones a Year

Fascinating coda to the story of Pystar, the unauthorized maker of OS X computers which Apple is trying to put out of business: Gregg Keizer of Computerworld has reported on the sales projections that Psystar made to to prospective investors.

Under its conservative projections, Psystar told investors it would sell 70,000 computers in 2009, 470,000 systems in 2010 and 1.45 million machines in 2011. The firm’s aggressive growth model, however, put those numbers at 130,000, 1.87 million and 12 million during 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

By comparison, Apple sold 10.4 million Macs during its 2009 fiscal year, the 12-month span that ended Sept. 30, 2009.

Psystar wasn’t just telling investors it could succeed: It was telling them it could get roughly fifty percent of the market for OS X computers, despite having a business plan that guaranteed a bruising, pricey, possibly-fatal legal battle with the company that made the OS it used.

As Keizer notes, an economist working for Apple can identify only 768 computers that Psystar has sold. Um, that’s a shortfall from even its “conservative” projection of 70,000 systems in 2009, right?

Psystar’s online store remains open as I write, but with Apple seemingly on the verge of scoring a knockout punch that will end Psystar’s OS X sales, I’d love to know if anyone who knows what’s going on is plunking down money for its Open line of pseudoMacs right now.

As long as I’m talking Psystar: Here’s the best behind-the-scenes story I’ve seen about the brothers behind the company. It’s by Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times.


Psystar Selling Software to Build Your Own Hackintosh

psystarPsystar is about to become an even bigger thorn in Apple’s side. The company has announced software that would allow users to run Mac OS X and six other operating systems on a PC called Rebel EFI. If it sounds like virtualization software, you’re pretty much right.

The company is even going as far as to license this technology for use by other PC manufacturers. While I’m pretty sure most companies won’t touch this one with a ten foot pole until the legal issues are straightened out in court, you can buy the software for $49.99 from the company’s online store.

Not sure if you want to fork over the money? Psystar also has a downloadable demo version available, although it only allows for two hours of use. In all cases, the company warns it can not be held responsible for any data loss as a result of its use.

If anybody out there is brave enough to give this software a shot, please let us know. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it. Either way though, you have to hand it to the Psystar folks for showing absolutely no fear in continually taking on the world’s most notoriously closed tech company.


Apple Says Psystar Destroyed Evidence

psystarThere are new allegations in the continuing court battle between Mac clone maker Psystar and Apple: the Cupertino company is now accusing its rival of destruction of evidence: I’m still in shock that the battle has gone this long, but I do digress.

Specifically, Apple says Psystar erased “infringing versions of the software code used on computers sold to its customers.” According to Apple lawyers, during the discovery phase of the case it was found that prior versions of the software had been deleted off of its customer’s computers.

Apparently, these deleted files contained modifications to the Mac OS, which is the central complaint in Apple’s case against the company. Psystar has argued that it had no obligation to save these modifications.

Both Apple and Psystar are set to meet in San Francisco federal court in January of next year.

In related news, after Apple was able to question Psystar executives last week, Psystar has announced a list of nine Apple executives that it plans to question this month. While of course the company’s lawyers will have plenty of questions for these folks, it is also opening up the process to the public.

“Given that there is a significant interest in this litigation aside from the business interest of Psystar, in particularly those of the OSX86 community and others; we want all your input,” the company said in a blog post.

Interested parties can e-mail their questions to Psystar, however answers would not be released until after the conclusion of the case.

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Mac Clone Maker (Not Psystar) to Open Retail Store

Lemonade StandMac clone manufacturer Quo computer said it would be opening a retail location in Los Angeles area on June 1. It will be located at 2401 West Main Street in Alhambra, a locality northeast of LA’s downtown district.

The company plans to offer three models, the Life Q, Pro Q, and Max Q. While Quo has not released details of what each model would entail, the company is using Apple’s current product lineup for guidance.

As with Psystar, the company is installing copies of Mac OS X Leopard on its equipment before shipping it to the consumer. This means Quo is breaking the same part of the EULA that Apple has sued Psystar over. In all likelihood, Quo will be the target of Cupertino’s legal guns next.

Quo is run by Rashantha De Silva, a Sri Lankan immigrant who has used Macs for nearly 25 years. A search on his name shows that he is a fairly frequent contributor to Apple’s support forums, so he’s no stranger to the Apple platform.

Sure to upset Apple even more is Quo’s business strategy: targeting education. This is one of the company’s most lucrative channels, and De Silva wants to put these clones in the hands of teachers and students.

While I commend companies like Psystar and Quo taking on Apple and forcing them to become more open–I am one of those Mac folks that believe allowing quality clones would be a good thing for the platform–they’re still breaking the law.

Apple’s EULA specifically forbids the use of the software on non-Apple machines. Until the courts find this clause illegal, it is pretty much akin to theft and prosecutable.

I’m fairly confident that the courts will rule against Psystar barring some unforeseen circumstance. Maybe future cloners will learn from the Psystar case and apply it to their efforts at breakng Apple’s grip on its OS software.

(Hat tip: CNET)


Mac Clonemaker Psystar Files for Bankruptcy

The second-largest manufacturer of OS X computers on the planet can’t pay its bills, which will make it tough to defend itself against Apple’s lawsuit:

Unauthorized Mac clone maker Psystar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida, temporarily slowing down Apple’s legal case against it. The filing may be an indication that the company’s financial backers have pulled out, signaling they see Apple as the clear winner in court.

The bankruptcy documents were filed with the Federal Courts in Florida on Thursday, and Apple’s legal team was most likely made aware of the situation over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Mac Observer says that Psystar will have to disclose who its financial backers are at a June 5th hearing. That should either be really interesting–or put an end to the theory that the tiny company has some corporate Svengali calling the shots.

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Judge Breaths Life into Apple Clone Maker Countersuit


Following months of legal wrangling and a false start, Mac clone maker Psystar may finally get its day in court. A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Psystar will be given the opportunity to amend its counterlawsuit against Apple, filed after that company sued Psystar over its OS X-running PCs, to focus on alleged copyright abuses instead of antitrust law violations.

On Friday, Feb. 8, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup signed an order that will allow Psystar’s countersuit against Apple to continue. If Psystar provides it allegation that Apple misused its copyrights to block out competition, other PC makers would be free to preinstall the OS onto their machines, Judge Alsup noted.

Apple sued Psystar in July 2008, accusing it of breaking copyright and software licenses laws by preloading Intel-based PCs with Mac OS X 10.5 without its blessing. The company has also accused Apple of modifying Mac OS X to crash on non-Apple systems. Psystar began selling the Mac clones in Apr. 2008.

Psystar’s original complaint accused Apple of violating antitrust law by tying its Mac OS X operating system together with its hardware, exclusively, but the court rejected that argument in November 2008.

Intellectual property law is always tricky and controversial, so lawsuits such as these should be ruled upon to clarify uncertainty (and by the highest court of the land). Until the laws themselves are reformed, this kind of uncertainty will persist.

My take is that when a company, or individual, is granted intellectual property by the government, they are essentially given a monopoly. The question is: Has Apple abused its monopoly? I don’t think that it has.

If Apple sold Mac OS X standalone, and then modified its license or software to intentionally excludes other manufacturers, that would be wrong. Apple creates it own hardware, and software for that hardware, and there is nothing wrong with that.


Psystar Drops Antitrust Claims, Adds Copyright Abuse Complaints

logoPsystar has revised its complaint against Apple, taking out the claims of antitrust violations that the court threw out in late September, but continuing to stress that copyright — and specifically Apple’s abuse of it — is at the heart of the issue.

The arguments center around something called the “misuse doctrine.” Essentially, copyright holders are barred from using their rights granted to block out competition. Here, the company is using the EULA to prevent users from installing the OS on anything else other than Apple hardware.

Psystar is also accusing Apple of hiding behind the DMCA, the statutes which the Cupertino company is using to fire back at Psystar in its countersuit.

Added to this complaint is a new section which alleges Apple is using so called “kernel panics” to prevent use on non-Apple hardware. When Mac OS X detects it is on a non-Apple system, it crashes the operating system which prevents its use.

The judge will now decide whether to allow or deny Psystar’s amended filing. It would be accepted into the record on January 15.

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Apple: Somebody’s Behind Psystar, And We’ll Find Out.

Well, the neverending saga that is the Apple v. Psystar court drama continues to get even more interesting. According to a copy of an amended complaint filed by the Cupertino company, and initially reported by Groklaw, it appears as if the company now believes there is either a major backer or corporation behind Psystar.

Jobs and Co. must have some pretty trustworthy leads if they are going as far as to include such an accusation in a legal document. Here’s what they are saying:

“On information and belief, persons other than Psystar are involved in Psystar’s unlawful and improper activities described in this Amended Complaint … the John Doe Defendants are various individuals and/or corporations who have infringed Apple’s intellectual property rights, breached or induced the breach of Apple’s license agreements and violated state and common law unfair competition laws.”

These John Doe suits have been used in the past, most notably in RIAA/MPAA anti-piracy suits. Here, it seems to be that Apple has reason to believe that as many as ten individuals and/or companies may be supporting Psystar in its efforts. What happens next, now that essentially all of Psystar’s case has been thrown out, is in the hands of the law.

The company will now be either found guilty or not on Apple’s own claims, while at the same time Apple will be working to uncover the identities of those who may be supporting Psystar. If these companies are revealed, you bet Apple will publicly expose these folks, and likely sue them too.

Not everybody’s buying it though. Devin over at CrunchGear had this pithy little comment:

Good lord, how mysterious! Can they really think that someone like Dell for example, jealous of Apple’s increasing market share, would set up a shell company to sell pieced-together Frankenmacs? I think Apple needs a drink.

Yeah, it does smell a little bit of paranoia, and I do support the effort to break free Mac OS of Apple’s complete control (I’m one of those folks who believe an open OS X will be the only way to truly compete with Microsoft). But Apple does have its right to find out if its rivals are attempting to sabotage its business.