Apple Files Copyright Suit Against Mac Cloner Psystar

Psystar has said in the past it will challenge Apple's ban on Mac clones and that it believes the ban won't stand up in court.
Apple has filed a copyright infringement suit against Psystar, a Miami-based company that for the past several weeks has been boldly selling Macintosh clones, apparently in direct violation of Apple's software license.

"We take it very seriously when we believe people have stolen our intellectual property," said an Apple spokeswoman on Tuesday. The spokeswoman said she was not immediately able to state what Apple is seeking from Psystar in terms of damages and penalties.

The suit was filed July 3 in U.S. District Court for Northern California in San Francisco before Magistrate Judge James Larson, according to court records. The parties are scheduled to meet for a case management conference on Oct. 22.

Psystar's Web site, through which it sells Macintosh clones and other computer equipment, appeared to be operating normally on Tuesday. A company representative said Psystar officials were not immediately available to discuss the case.

Psystar claims its Mac clones cost about one-quarter to half of what Apple branded systems sell for. In defense of its clones, the company charges that Apple marks up the cost of the hardware on which its operating systems ride by as much as 80%.

One version of Psystar's Open Computer features Apple's Leopard OS X 10.5 operating system ported onto generic PC hardware that includes an Intel Core2Duo processor at 2.66 GHz, a 250-GB hard drive, and a Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card.

The system is priced at $804.99. A similar, Apple-branded computer would cost at least $1,500. The problem: Apple's end user license agreement expressly forbids installation or sales of its operating systems on third-party hardware.

Psystar was launched earlier this year by Rudy and Robert Pedraza of Miami. In a previous interview with InformationWeek, a Psystar employee who identified himself as Robert vowed that the company would challenge Apple's ban on Mac clones and said he believed it won't stand up in court.

"What if Honda said that, after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?" said Robert. It's a question that now may be up to a judge or jury to answer.

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