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Apple Asks Court To Dismiss Psystar Antitrust Claim

Steve Jobs' attorneys scoff at Psystar's contention that the Mac OS represents a market that is separate and apart from the rest of the PC industry.
As part of its ongoing copyright lawsuit against clone manufacturer Psystar, Apple has asked the court hearing the case to dismiss Psystar's counterclaim that Apple's dominance of the Mac market constitutes a violation of federal antitrust laws.

Apple, in court papers filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, notes that Psystar's counterclaim is based on the notion that Macs represent a market that is separate and apart from the rest of the PC industry, and that Apple uses unfair tactics to dominate that market. The notion is fundamentally flawed, according to Apple's dismissal motion.

"In direct contradiction to Psystar's claimed Mac-only market, Psystar admits that 'a seemingly infinite list of manufacturers may be found in the computer hardware system marketplace,'" including Dell, Acer, HP, and Sony, Apple states.

"Psystar's very business model is premised on the fact that Apple's computers compete directly with personal computers using different operating systems," Apple further states. Apple has asked the court to dismiss all of Psystar's counterclaims. The court has yet to rule on the request.

Psystar, in a countersuit filed in August, claimed that Apple's dominance of the market for its own products violates Sherman antitrust rules and other U.S. laws.

The countersuit was in response to a copyright lawsuit that Apple filed against Psystar in July. Psystar sells low-cost knock-offs of Apple's pricey Macs -- including models that run the glitzy new OS X 10.5 "Leopard" operating system. Apple, in its original complaint, claimed that the clones violate its copyrights over the Mac OS and asked the court to order Psystar to discontinue sales.

For its defense and countersuit, Psystar has retained high-profile Silicon Valley law firm Carr & Ferrell. The firm has previously tangled with Apple and won. Partner Robert Yorio in 2007 extracted a $10 million settlement from Apple for Burst.com, which claimed Apple violated its streaming media patents.

Apple versus Psystar is a high-stakes case -- and not just for the parties involved. If Psystar prevails, it could open the door for other PC makers to offer Mac clones. Such a development would undermine Apple's main business model -- which relies on Apple's perceived right to dictate which hardware products can run its software. It could also hurt Microsoft's sales, given that vendors like Dell and HP currently have no alternative to Windows, other than the open source Linux OS, to offer their customers.

A trial date for the case has not been set.