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Apple Files Suit Against Psystar 805

Posted by kdawson
from the grind-exceeding-fine dept.
Reader The other A.N. Other, among others, alerts us to the news that Apple has filed suit against Psystar, the unauthorized clonemaker. (We've been discussing Psystar from the start.) The suit alleges violation of Apple's shrink wrap license and trademarks, and also copyright infringement. News of the lawsuit, filed on July 3, first surfaced on a legal blog. There's speculation that the case has been sealed.
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Apple Files Suit Against Psystar

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  • by adder (3667) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:26PM (#24200293)

    ...that it took Apple this long to get the legal ball rolling on this!

    • by tulmad (25666) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:27PM (#24200319)

      I was thinking the same thing, but Apple might have waited until they were sure they could win the suit.

      • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:36PM (#24200467)
        I was thinking the same thing, but Apple might have waited until they were sure they could win the suit.

        Or had to.

        Had this clone company flopped Apple could have walked away without ever lifting a finger. Now Steve Jobs has to pull the same kind of antics that Microsoft was endlessly bashed for.

        After all, Apple likes to play it off like the cool slacker who has everything just work out in the end. It's going to look bad if they need to kick some ass to keep their coveted spot in the home computing world. It's going to make for a great Mac Vs. PC commercial, I'm sure.
        • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:01PM (#24200995) Homepage Journal

          Apple is the same company who has repeatedly sent threatening legal letters to teenage bloggers and such. They also clearly violated their deal with Apple records, and then went on the legal offensive like they were victims.

          Apple certainly isn't afraid to use their lawyers. My guess is that they wanted Pystar to make some profits to the lawsuit would make financial sense.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by lurch_mojoff (867210)

            Apple is the same company who has repeatedly sent threatening legal letters to teenage bloggers and such. They also clearly violated their deal with Apple records, and then went on the legal offensive like they were victims.

            Apple certainly isn't afraid to use their lawyers. My guess is that they wanted Pystar to make some profits to the lawsuit would make financial sense.

            [citation needed]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by alvinrod (889928)

            I don't think they're really after any money that Pystar may have made from their sales. Sure they'll sue Pystar for tens of millions of dollars, but I don't think it's really about that. To Apple their brand image is worth more to them than any small amount of money that Pystar has possibly made over the last few months.

            My best guess is that the only reason that they took this long is that they were curious to see exactly how many units Pystar could ship over a certain period of time. The sales data would

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cbreaker (561297)

          Apple has done worse in their day. They're more ruthless than most corporations when it comes to things like this.

          Somehow, it seems to go unnoticed..

          I guess people forgot how they squashed the Mac clone market a decade ago by deciding to no longer license the ROM needed to run MacOS and thus putting many OEM companies out of business in one fell swoop.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Raineer (1002750)
            And everyone knows IBM *SHOULD* have done the same, why does Apple get lambasted for it...just because people don't like Stevie?
          • What's funny is how no one mentions that Apple hasn't made a single legal move against the OSX86 project.

            They haven't made a peep, not a disapproving statement nor threats of legal action. The ONLY reason Apple cares is because Psystar is riding their name and software in an attempt to make a cheap buck, and would likely push the support issues off to Apple who will take a black mark for refusing to support hardware they had no hand in.

            Apple doesn't give a damn about you running OS X on your hackintosh, bec

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by HardCase (14757)

              How much money is the OSX86 project generating? And what hardware are they selling?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by torkus (1133985)

              This is nothing more than another case of a company sueing to protect the business model they feel entitled to continued/endless profit from.

              Psystar could still sell computers if apple didn't exist. They could sell them blank, with windows, with linux (oh wait, what is MacOS again?!). How is Apple killing the clone market any different than printer mfgs putting a extremely simple 'encryption' chip in their toners to use the DMCA against after-market toner mfgs?

              And to imply that Apple needs hardware sales

          • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:47PM (#24201827) Homepage Journal

            I guess people forgot how they squashed the Mac clone market a decade ago by deciding to no longer license the ROM needed to run MacOS and thus putting many OEM companies out of business in one fell swoop.

            I guess you forgot that the clone makers agreed not to go after Apple's market and invariably did. Apple's intention to allow clones was to expand where it couldn't, yet instead of expanding they went after what little of the market Apple had. After having being burnt last time, I am not sure that Apple wants to go through that again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pontiac (135778)

      Well getting damages in a copyright case does equire trying to mitigate damages..
      They may have spent the time trying to the company to comply or get a licensing agreement worked out.
      Apple's case will go much smoother if they can show they tried to settle the issue before moving to legal options.

  • Competition Killer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:27PM (#24200305)

    But it's Apple, so it's OK.

  • by Hyppy (74366) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:27PM (#24200313)
    Apple is and always has been a hardware company. They fear competition on the hardware front, because that's their primary business product: overpriced "luxury" computers. (cue the fanboy bashings)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Well I am not a fanboy and don't own a Mac but.
      Their notebooks except the Air seem to be competitively priced.
      The Imac seems a little pricey.
      The Pro towers seem again to be competitive for what you get.
      And the Servers seem like a pretty good deal.
      What they lack are the super cheap entry level disposable junk that you see at BestCompuMaxCity.
      They do lack a moderate price expandable tower.

      • by Dan Ost (415913) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:50PM (#24200773)

        Did anyone else try to read that post as a poem?

      • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:06PM (#24201093)

        What they lack are the super cheap entry level disposable junk...They do lack a moderate price expandable tower

        So, hardware-wise, they only sell high end stuff. The thing with the high end is that you start getting diminishing returns. I build moderate towers for half what the high end computers would cost and get 75% of the performance at least, although often it's closer to 80% or 90%. From what I've seen, macs tend to fall later on the curve than I (and most people I know) like to hit, after the performance-per-dollar starts declining.

        Of course, that's just my opinion, many people prefer to buy there, and for them macs are just fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moosesocks (264553)

      Their current lineup is fairly competitively priced.

      Go ahead and spec out a similar machine from Dell, HP, or Lenovo. When comparing apples to apples (heh), they might not necessarily be the best deal around, but are certainly competitive, and definitely not a ripoff.

      • by Budenny (888916) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:42PM (#24200607)

        Common fallacious argument.

        It does not matter whether you can duplicate a Mac for less. What matters is, after you have settled on a spec you want, or found a Dell or HP you want, can you duplicate that for the same price from the Apple product line?

        95% of the time you can't. This is what makes Apple a rip-off.

        It would only matter that you could not duplicate a Mac cheaper, if the Mac spec were the starting point for shopping. It very rarely is.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jandrese (485)
          What kills me is that you're stuck with the crappy 1280x800 screen on every Macbook until you get to the outrageously expensive Macbook Pros. Even my >2 year old $600 Inspiron 6000 has a 1680x1050 display on it. I can't go back, but I don't want to pay $2,800 for a laptop either.
        • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:02PM (#24201013)

          People feeling ripped off is what makes Apple a rip-off. If you're happy with your Mac, and feel you got good value for it, you haven't been ripped off. If you're unhappy with your Windows/PC, and want a Mac to replace it, but can't find one with comparable specs, don't buy one and you won't be ripped off.

      • Go ahead and spec out a similar machine from Dell, HP, or Lenovo.

        Last time I did that I was able to put together a machine comparable to a Mac Mini for about 50% of the price, and a Macbook for about 70% of the price. On average, the "Mac Tax" seems to be about 40% of the list price of a Mac.

        I still bought the Mac mini and the Macbook Pro (thought that was tough, I could have gotten everything I actually wanted (hardware-wise) from a Macbook Pro for about the same price as the Macbook). When the choice is Windows vs UNIX-with-actual-applications, the Mac Tax is worth it. But it's still real.

        • by beelsebob (529313) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:57PM (#24200911)

          You put together a MacMini for 50% of the price? There's only two companies out there I'm aware of that offer similar sized machines. Asus sell the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeBox, but it's a lot lower specced, and AOpen's mini PC, which I admit is a better deal, but it's no where near 50% of the price. My guess is that you forgot that being 6" by 6" by 2" and silent is a very very valuable feature.

          • You put together a MacMini for 50% of the price? There's only two companies out there I'm aware of that offer similar sized machines.

            I specced a functionally equivalent machine, and even gave Apple a break by not including the cost of the external hard drive case, external powered USB hub, and power strip that made the total size of the Mac mini solution pretty much the same as the low profile desktop, but I *did* count the firewire card in the cost of the PC!

            I am not counting "styling" (including the size of the Mac mini, the smooth white case on the Macbook, etc). Just function. Styling too often has negative value (eg, the Mac mini doesn't even provide enough power from USB to charge an iPod Shuffle).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by geminidomino (614729) *

              Styling too often has negative value (eg, the Mac mini doesn't even provide enough power from USB to charge an iPod Shuffle).

              Is that true? I thought there was a standard for USB2. 5V or so.

              Not doubting you, just mind-boggled.

              • by beelsebob (529313) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:49PM (#24201859)

                You would expect that such a problem would draw a bit of attention, and that you might find something about it if you say googled for "mac mini iPod shuffle charge" or "mac mini USB power". But, searching a good number of terms turns up absolutely nothing -- in fact, even one article claiming that the MacMini provides *too much* power for the USB spec, not too little. He's clearly just spreading FUD.

            • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @04:29PM (#24202599)

              I specced a functionally equivalent machine, and even gave Apple a break by not including the cost of the external hard drive case, external powered USB hub, and power strip that made the total size of the Mac mini solution pretty much the same as the low profile desktop, but I *did* count the firewire card in the cost of the PC!

              I know just how you mean. The other day I was looking for a new bicycle. I wanted a bike that would not fold and looked at a Dahon folding bike, then gave Dahon a break by not including the cost of hiring some guy to weld the folding joints in place and it was still more expensive than regular bikes!

    • by timster (32400) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:55PM (#24200895)

      Nah, they are a software company. The truth is that they can't be profitable selling Mac OSX at $150 a copy to compete with Windows, because they need a large developer team to keep pace with Microsoft and they have fewer unit sales.

      So if Microsoft spends $1 billion on development, Apple probably needs to spend at least $500 million to keep up. Microsoft can distribute that cost among 20 million users at $50 each, charge $100 and make half profit. If Apple has 2 million users that comes out to $250 per user spent on development. (These aren't intended to be real numbers, just an approximation of the magnitude of the respective numbers).

      Very few people would spend $500 on a boxed OSX so it's necessary to bundle with hardware that's intentionally kept unique, and lower-end models are limited in certain ways as a form of price discrimination. The uniqueness is part of the package, but it's also a way to obfuscate direct price comparisons.

      Apple sells OSX UPGRADES at a reasonable price, but there's no way you'd catch them selling an "OEM" version anywhere close to $200 -- there'd be no ROI.

      This is the only strategy a commercial OS vendor could resonably hope to use in a Microsoft-dominated market.

  • Wake up people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:31PM (#24200389)

    Apple is exactly what Microsoft would be if Bill Gate's father wasn't already a wealthy man. Do you think that Jobs or Gates are very much different?

    One interesting note, however, Apple uses the courts as an offensive mechanism more often than Microsoft. Microsoft tends to bombard problems with cash projectiles until resistance is bought off. Apple sues you for even talking about them.

    All multi-national corporations suck.

    • Re:Wake up people (Score:4, Insightful)

      by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:38PM (#24200529) Homepage Journal

      Wake up to what?

      Few people have any illusions that Apple is "not evil" in some sense that makes them different from any other company.

      But this case has nothing to do with being evil or being good.

      Apple and Microsoft have a completely different set of business models. It's not just that they're smaller, the whole revenue model is radically different: Apple makes their money from hardware sales. This is probably the biggest reason that Apple's still in business: they're not fighting Microsoft on Microsoft's playing field.

      Anyway, they have to sell hardware to do that. So they license the software in a way that drives hardware sales. So they kind of don't have an alternative: go up against Microsoft when death is on the line, or sue someone who's blatantly violating your license.

  • by tinkerghost (944862) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:31PM (#24200395) Homepage

    Without the clause in the EULA that you will only run the OS on a genuine MAC, there is nothing here. So I guess we get to see just how far a shrink wrap EULA will go in the court. I'm not entirely certain that this is a good case for it, but it's not one of the worst.

    Unfortunately, the 9th Circuit just ruled for Blizzard in their interpretation of a EULA violation negating the validity of license of legally purchased software & CA is in the 9th Circuit.

    • by frission (676318) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:00PM (#24200991) Homepage
      There's a little more to it now. It sounds more like they're suing because they took the Leopard update, opened it up, modified files in it, and re-released it for themselves. I think they're considering that a copyright infringement.
  • a boy can dream (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jtroutman (121577) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:32PM (#24200397)

    Wouldn't it be nice if they fought this? If they said, hey, we bought your software, we can install it on whatever we want. And then, in my imaginary world, a judge sees their point of view and rules that once you purchase a piece of software, it's yours to do with as you please.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spy der Mann (805235)

      And then, in my imaginary world, a judge sees their point of view and rules that once you purchase a piece of software, it's yours to do with as you please.

      The OpenMoko article is just below this one. Enjoy ^_^

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So we can ignore Apple and Microsoft's licenses because we don't like them, but if anyone even thinks about subverting the GPL, fire up the pot of boiling oil? Awesome.

      Personally I believe the choice has to be made by the individual, not the courts. Enough people start reading EULA's and asking uncomfortable questions at retail, and we may see better licenses, or even more use of free software. Of course that would require everyone be educated about software licensing, and have their brains rewired from a

  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:32PM (#24200413)

    1. Create a line of Mac clones.
    2. Sell them to an unwitting public.
    3. Have Apple file suit.
    4. Pay bonuses to all the execs.
    5. Declare bankruptcy.
    6. Shut down all operations.

    Guess what... Everyone who bought a Psystar is left totally unsupported (which includes the all-important security hole fixes) and the execs made a bundle... Now, could Apple go after the execs personally for copyright infringement or (the soon-to-be-defunct) Psystar? Ironically, there was no consumer fraud here--businesses go under all the time and anyone who bought a Psystar would have had to know that Apple wouldn't support them...

  • not sealed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:38PM (#24200531)

    Here is a slightly more informative (less speculative) posting: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=9328 [zdnet.com]

  • by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:42PM (#24200599)

    I really hope this goes to trial and a judge rules on it. Partly because I think the judge would rule that Apple can't do what they're trying to do with their EULA, but even if the judge sides with them, it's still a clarification of the law.

    I don't like existing in the murky world of armchair people positing what is and isn't legal. Plus, if it goes Psystar's way, I doubt it would be too long before larger manufacturers got on board. Once something becomes legal, corporations want all over it (well, I guess that applies to profitable things).

  • by NeuroManson (214835) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:00PM (#24200985) Homepage

    More like "Sue Predictably".

  • by Proteus (1926) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:16PM (#24201307) Homepage Journal

    I know the Slashdot hordes like to bitch and moan about EULAs -- not without cause, mind you -- but the EULA violation in this case might as well be a footnote.

    If all Psystar had done was violate the EULA clause that said "hey, you won't do anything to make this run on non-Apple hardware", then this case would be about how enforceable that clause is.

    Unfortunately, Psystar did much more egregious things than violate a silly EULA term. They, by their own public admission, modified a copyright-protected work, then redistributed these modifications without a license to do so. And they did it for commercial purposes, no less. Even under the traditional terms of copyright (as opposed to the mutilated corporate-serving terms we have now), that's just not cricket.

    On top of that copyright infringement, they also noodle-headedly used at least one Apple trademark (the "Leopard" name and mark) to promote the sale of hardware and software.

    I will be absolutely stunned if Apple doesn't prevail on the Copyright and Trademark parts of their case, though I do hope that the judge will find that a license to run software on a particular kind of hardware is not binding.

    (Not a lawyer, this isn't advice -- I do know a thing or two about the law)

  • the problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by nawcom (941663) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @04:41PM (#24202809) Homepage

    I think the problem will come down to what is Apple hardware. Is an Airport Extreme an Apple branded device, or is it a Broadcom 43xx card or Atheros 5424 card with an Apple sticker on it? Is the sound card a "High Definition Apple Sound Card" that's built into the "MacBook Logic Board" or is it just an HD Realtek card (CX1988, etc) on an Intel motherboard with a pick Apple sticker on it? I know for a fact that on Macbooks, they use an Intel processor and motherboard with EFI instead of good ol BIOS, a Realtek Card, a Broadcom wireless card (Essentially the same thing as a Dell Truemobile 1390 or an Atheros 5424 card), A Yukon Gigabit Ethernet card (88E8053), with standard devices hooked to it (hard drive, etc) via ICH7. This is all built inside of a Quanta laptop casing.

    This is what Apple hardware is. Some may still see it as different, but I sure don't since my dell laptop has almost identical specs. And since Apple uses such an open source friendly license (http://www.opensource.apple.com/apsl/) I have easily ported linux and freebsd drivers to work on OS X. I have purchased a retail copy of leopard. I guess I am breaking the law, right? No, just the EULA. Why am I doing this? Simply to bring a good, friendly, stable, unix OS to my own computer. None of this requires pirating software

    FYI, we've already completed a way to install OS X on a PC without altering the original Leopard retail Disc. So people can essentially go out, buy a copy of Leopard, and install it on a PC after booting off of a USB device that loads up the kernel extensions for their own PC hardware. All open source, all following APSL.

    Also note that this is all homebrew stuff, none is earning any money off of it, and most of it is open source. This is why Psystar isn't really supported at all when it comes to the people who are putting their heart into this project.

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