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11/16/2009
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Psystar Guilty Of Violating Mac Copyright

Court grants summary judgment in favor of Apple's lawsuit against cloner.

A judge has ruled in favor of Apple in the computer maker's copyright infringement lawsuit against upstart Mac clone manufacturer Psystar.

In granting summary judgment for Apple, Judge William Alsup, of U.S. District Court for San Francisco, said Psystar violated Apple's copyright over the Mac OS by modifying it so it could run on third-party hardware and by distributing it to customers.

"Apple asks its customers to purchase Mac OS knowing that it is to be used only with Apple computers. It is certainly entitled to do so," said Alsup on Friday, referring to a previous ruling in the case.

Alsup said he would not immediately decide on the amount of damages Apple is entitled to. He also reserved for trial a number of other issues in the case, including Apple's breach of contract and trademark claims against Psystar.

The ruling is significant in that, had Psystar prevailed, other PC makers—including giants like Dell and Hewlett-Packard—would presumably have been free to offer their own Mac clones. That fact led some observers, and even Apple itself, to speculate that tiny Psystar's activities and legal costs were being secretly funded by an outside party.

Psystar remains defiant, despite Alsup's ruling.

The company was continuing to sell Mac clones, including systems based on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, as of Monday afternoon. In fact, Psystar has even added to its offerings. It's now selling a software product called Rebel EFI that it claims will allow the user to load any operating system, including Mac OS, onto any PC.

Rebel EFI may represent an attempt by Psystar to circumvent the court's ruling, as it would not be physically installing the Mac OS onto its customers' computers. However, the software, depending on how it works, could make the customers themselves guilty of copyright infringement.

Psystar managed to load Mac OS onto generic PC hardware by removing the OS's native bootloader and kernel extension files, but Alsup ruled that such modifications were illegal because they violated Apple's sole right to modify its OS.

Psystar, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, operates from a non-descript industrial subdivision in the Miami, Florida area.

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