Apple wins legal battle with Psystar as clonemaker stops selling Mac clones in wake of Judge's ruling

After months of legal wrangling, Apple finally emerged victorious in its battle to prevent Mac clonemaker Psystar from selling non-Apple hardware with pre-installed copies of OS X. Apple had sued Psystar back in July of 2008, and rather than closing up shop as many had expected, Psystar put up a determined fight to challenge Apple's business model of tying its operating system to its own hardware.

After months of legal wrangling, Apple finally emerged victorious in its battle to prevent Mac clonemaker Psystar from selling non-Apple hardware with pre-installed copies of OS X.  Apple had sued Psystar back in July of 2008, and rather than closing up shop as many had expected, Psystar put up a determined fight to challenge Apple's business model of tying its operating system to its own hardware.

In the end, though, the law was simply on Apple's side as the judge presiding over the case in California, Judge Alsup, granted Apple's motion for Summary Judgment when he found that Psystar's actions violated Apple's copyrights in OS X.  Futhermore, Alsup ruled that Psystar had violated the DMCA for writing software that worked to circumvent security measures in OS X that prevent it from running, at least in theory, on non-Apple hardware.

In the wake of that ruling, Apple subsequently asked the court for a permanent injunction that would effectively bar Psystar from selling its clones.  And because litigation is anything but cheap, Apple also requested damages totaling more than $2 million - a figure that encapsulates Psystar's copyright and DMCA violations.

In a joint order/stipulation released earlier this week, Judge Alsup ruled that Psystar hand over nearly $2.7 million in damages to Apple.  But in a concurrent agreement, Apple and Psystar agreed that all judgments owed would not need to be paid until Psystar exhausts the appeals process.  Apple also agreed that it would drop any remaining claims that were subject to trial, such as allegations of trademark infringement and dilution.

So while Apple may not be collecting any money just yet, there's no doubt that it has emerged victorious in its contentious battle withPsystar.  In fact, by yesterday afternoon, all Mac clones on Psystar's website were all of a sudden "out of stock."

But one item that isn't out of stock is Psystar's Rebel EFI program, which is a piece of software which, when installed, allows users to install OS X on generic PC's.  The reason why Psystar continues to sell its Rebel EFI software is because it claims that it was never part of the litigation recently ruled upon in California.  On the contrary,Psystar this summer filed a lawsuit in the state of Florida seeking permission there from the court that would allow it to sell copies of Snow Leopard on its own hardware.  Apple naturally has filed a motion seeking to have the case transferred to California, or preferably dismissed. Psystar's position, however, is that the two cases address different issues and that the case filed in Florida should stay there until issues relating to Rebel EFI are properly addressed.

So all in all, it's been a good week for Apple.  Psystar's clone business is a thing of the past, and while it continues to sell its Rebel EFI software, Apple's top priority was halting its hardware sales.  Still, Apple will continue to fight against Psytar's infringing ways, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if the Florida case is subsequently transferred to California.  The two cases might have slightly different fact patterns, but the underlying principles are consistent throughout.

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