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Mac Clone Maker Psystar Plans Antitrust Suit Against Apple

Psystar claims Apple's restrictions on third-party hardware makers violate U.S. antitrust laws.
Psystar, the small Mac cloner that operates out of a non-descript, Miami industrial park, is going on the offensive. Company officials said Tuesday that they plan to file a countersuit against Apple charging the computer maker with "anticompetitive practices," according to Dow Jones Newswires.

"Our goal is to provide an alternative (to Apple)," said Psystar co-founder Rudy Pedraza, the wire service reported.

Apple filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Psystar in July, charging the company with illegally selling copies of its Leopard operating system on third-party, generic PC hardware. Apple's end-user licensing agreement specifically forbids installing its OS on non-Apple hardware.

Psystar now claims that the license terms violate U.S. antitrust laws.

For its defense and countersuit, Psystar has retained the 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. Yorio also helped negotiate a similar, $60 million settlement from Microsoft on behalf of Burst.com.

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, including major vendors like Dell and HP, to offer Mac clones. Such a development could undermine Apple's main business model--which relies on Apple's perceived right to dictate which software products can run on its hardware.

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%.

Psystar is scheduled to file its answer to Apple's charges, along with its countersuit, by Aug. 28.