Apple Sues Clone-Maker Psystar

ZDNet broke the story this morning that Apple has filed suit against Mac clone maker Psystar. The Florida-based manufacturer of PC’s is famous for its ‘OpenMac’ line of Mac clones, which were released earlier this year. The devices are standard PC hardware running a hacked copy of Mac OS X – so the legality of their sale was always questionable. Regardless, Psystar have been selling the machines at a fraction of the price of Apple branded hardware.

Psystar were earlier forced to change the name of the OpenMac product to “Open Computer” – which is available in two models. Apple filed a suit this morning in the federal district court for Northern California, in San Francisco. The suit claims that Apple is a big great company with a big brand to protect and lots of IP (not to mention lots of money), while Psystar is a shitty little hardware manufacturer from Florida, therefor Apple win by default. The result will likely be that Apple will win, because they have already proven to the court on numerous ocassions in the past the value of their brand and IP.

The core of what Psystar is doing ‘wrong’ is that they have detached Apple software from Apple hardware, thus the experience is no longer ‘uniform’. The claims for the case can also fall under the anti-circumvention clauses of the DMCA – the same draconian laws used to prosecute mod-chip enthusiasts and those who dare to watch a DVD on Linux or BSD. Apple can claim that by running OS X on non-Apple hardware, that the manufacturer circumvented their protection controls.

Apple will crush Psystar – no doubt about it, their intentions are clear now. The question is wether what Psystar are doing should be considered right or wrong – considering that they aren’t stealing Apple software and are probably reaping a new market of OS X users who would otherwise have not purchased Apple hardware. Outside the business decision – the fact is that the laws in the USA (especially since the DMCA) are firmly on the side of the larger party.