Apple, Psystar Case Gears Up For the Long Haul

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Apple and Psystar have been locking legal horns for months over whether or not Psystar can sell Mac clone computers without Apple's permission, and it looks like there are still several more months of battling in store for both companies. Since the companies aren't scheduled to appear in court until November, it could be the end of the year before a ruling is issued, and if there are any appeals, the case could drag out into 2011.

Both sides look to be digging in for a long battle, but legal experts generally agree that Apple has the upper hand in this case.

Apple hit Psystar with a copyright infringement lawsuit after the company began selling PCs with Mac OS X pre-installed and without permission. Psystar responded by filing a counter claim that Apple was violating antitrust laws -- a claim that the court tossed out.

Psystar is now claiming that Apple is abusing its copyright on Mac OS X by licensing the operating system only for its own hardware. The court has not yet determined whether or not it will accept new claims.

Jonathan Blinderman, head of the new media department at the law firm Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs & Shapiro, told Macworld "From a legal perspective, it's all just posturing. The perception is important, even though things can turn around so quickly."

Psystar's posturing may not, however, pay off. An attorney familiar with this type of case told TMO "Psystar is unlikely to win the right to install OS X on its Open Computers, but this lawsuit is going to take a long time."

The attorney added that the length of this legal battle brings into question who is funding Psystar's defense. "Believe me, two Miami slackers didn't put together enough money to afford the legal team and the legal expense of taking on Apple on what is an existential issue for Apple, to wit, restricting OS X to its computers," he said. "And Psystar's attorneys aren't using their own money to finance a case that is likely to be a loser."

In the end, the stakes in this legal game may be higher for Psystar than Apple. Should Psystar lose, it will probably have to close up shop. Apple, on the other hand, would have to deal with a change in a narrow part of its licensing terms for Mac OS X, and the company would likely find a way to address that in short order, too.

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Comments

daemon

Wow, the legal system is apparently so broken that it’s simply impossible for two small bussiness owners to be able to fight a legal battle against a titan of industry.

I think it’s high time we regulate the courts to reasonable costs so all people have access, not just the obsenely wealthy.

daPrinz

Yeah, so more idiots can start stupid cases to keep the jurisdiction system congested! Like those cases were people burn their lips because a hot steaming coffee didn’t have a “WARNING HOT” label on it. Just imagine if every person could start a battle with no money!

daemon

Yeah, so more idiots can start stupid cases to keep the jurisdiction system congested! Like those cases were people burn their lips because a hot steaming coffee didn?t have a ?WARNING HOT? label on it. Just imagine if every person could start a battle with no money!

Yes, just imagine a system where you didn’t need to be versed in political back talk, conflicting case histories (you do recall that before Abortion was legalized as being a constitutionally protected right to privacy it was considered murder and thus illegal), and have millions of dollars to spend on fees.

Sounds like true horror to me. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. It sounds like a justice system that doesn’t favor the rich over the poor.

vasic

I’m trying to figure out what part of legal system prevents anyone (including two small business owners) from accessing it at reasonable cost. In the US, anyone can file a lawsuit. I’m not sure at what cost, but it is essentially extremely cheap and a non-issue. Anyone can defend themselves, or hire anyone they please to defend them.

And, yes, wow, the system is built in such a way that two lazy slackers can bring a frivolous, merit less lawsuit against any company, causing the company to waste time, resources and possibly even reputation. The barrier of entry is so low that courts let pretty much anything go to trial.

Perhaps the legal system DOES need fixing after all. We might want that bar set just a bit higher.

daemon

And, yes, wow, the system is built in such a way that two lazy slackers can bring a frivolous, merit less lawsuit against any company, causing the company to waste time, resources and possibly even reputation. The barrier of entry is so low that courts let pretty much anything go to trial.

Vasic, did you read the article at all?

vasic

The article is misleading. The court tossed out anti-trust claim; it did allow Psystar to amend the claim for copyright abuse, and Psystar did exactly that. The court hasn’t yet delivered the final ruling on this one, and they actually should have tossed it out together with the first claim. This way, they allowed Psystar to abuse the legal system, tie up court’s, as well as Apple’s resources. Obviously, Psystar duo is dragging this out as much as possible, while continuing to build and sell their clones, collect the profits, which they’ll undoubtedly funnel away into something else. When the time comes to shut down the shop, they’ll have taken away quite a bundle, and none of it will be within reach of the legal system.

These types of scams are only possible in a legal system that gives everyone way too much of the benefit of the doubt.

daemon

Vasic, it’s like you’re full of fail to comprehend.

My initial comment was in regards to this quote from the article:

The attorney added that the length of this legal battle brings into question who is funding Psystar’s defense. “Believe me, two Miami slackers didn’t put together enough money to afford the legal team and the legal expense of taking on Apple on what is an existential issue for Apple, to wit, restricting OS X to its computers,” he said. “And Psystar’s attorneys aren’t using their own money to finance a case that is likely to be a loser.”

Even if Psystar’s counter-claims were never lodged, according to this “expert,” they still wouldn’t be able to afford to combat Apple in the legal system. That is what I was commenting on.

vasic

OK, I see what you’re talking about; it wasn’t that clear from your first message (”...did you read the article?”).

The attorney may be a bit full of himself. It doesn’t actually take all that much money to bring a law suit (or counter-suit) against anyone, even Apple. All you need is a law student who can figure out how to properly draft a legal document (plenty of those around). In all fairness, unless these guys decide to spend some serious money on some experienced trial lawyer with expertise in this type of law (copyright issues), their chances against Apple’s legal (dream)team are slim to none. Still, there are no reasons why Psystar could not effectively bring a lawsuit against Apple, and that is precisely obvious in the way current case is developing.

Nemo

Dear Messrs. Vasic and Dameon:  Occasionally, I get so full of myself that I need to relieve that distended feeling, so let me take this occasion to do so.  Lawsuits take a great deal of money, at least lawsuit involving lawyers.  And yes, that does far too often prevent a claim that has legal merit from being raised in the courts.  That’s why most states require lawyers to engage in some sort of funding for legal-aid societies to provide representations to those who have a meritorious but who can’t afford representation.  The ethics of the legal profession also set the aspirational goal that, when a lawyer can afford to do so, he should, as his contribution to the law and society, represent those who can’t pay with his best effort.  Even so, it is not enough.  Big business has been quite successful at getting the court house door closed to many meritorious claims by changing the law and by influencing the appointment and election of judges.  So many with good claims are turned away with no opportunity to get relief.

But that is not the problem for Psystar.  If its claims had sufficient merit, lawyers would take the case on contingency, because they would get paid, if not from damages assessed against Apple, Inc.—because I don’t think there would be much in the way of damages, even if Psystar prevails—then from Psystar’s lucrative business of making Mac clones or, as I believe to be the case, from some deep-pocketed competitor or competitors that want to destroy Apple’s business model.  Indeed, if I am correct, Psystar has been able to bring a case of dubious merit, while others can’t afford to bring meritorious claims, because it has found funding from one or more of Apple’s competitors.  So, while the inability for the ordinary person—and certainly not the poor—to afford a worthy lawsuit and a good lawyer to bring it is a general problem, Psystar is the ironic exception to that rule.

So, Vasic and Daemon, I think that both of your positions have some merit.  But Daemon weep not for Psystar.  It is getting quite a free ride, as it attempts to wring some concession from Apple for it to waive what I believe are its prerogatives under the Copyright Act to restrict OS X to its Apple-labeled computers.  And Vasic, I hope that the instant exposition persuades you that I am not so full of myself.

vasic

Nemo,

I completely agree with your argument. I still believe, though, that in general, the legal system in the US works more-or-less rather well, allowing anyone without resources to bring a suit against anyone else. As it would be impossible to build a system that isn’t at least a bit skewed towards those with deep pockets, it could be said that all things considered, system works rather well for the little guy. In a way, it isn’t any different than in any other human activity, where deep pockets usually provide better outcome, even in the instances where outcome should not depend on that.

If you were the ‘Attorney familiar with this type of case’ quoted by TMO, I apologise for the initial label; it was probably a knee-jerk reaction, due to the prevalent stereotype of lawyers as money-grubbing weasels. Having known many who forcefully defy that stereotype, I should have known better.

daPrinz

“Yes, just imagine a system where you didn?t need to be versed in political back talk, conflicting case histories (you do recall that before Abortion was legalized as being a constitutionally protected right to privacy it was considered murder and thus illegal), and have millions of dollars to spend on fees.

Sounds like true horror to me. Oh wait, no it doesn?t. It sounds like a justice system that doesn?t favor the rich over the poor.”

So you are comparing a constitutional issue to a company trying to sue an other company based on BS? You totally convinced me!

daemon

So you are comparing a constitutional issue to a company trying to sue an other company based on BS? You totally convinced me!

daPrinz, you fail.

Paraphrasing what was posted before to illustrate your failure:

I say: The courts are a failure because only the rich have access to them.

You say: No they aren’t because just imagine if everyone actually had equal access, anarchy would reign as everyone and their mother sued each other.

I say: A justice system that doesn’t favor one party over another simply based upon their financial capabilities is a good thing.

You say: How can you compare a matter of constitutionality to a company friviously sueing another company? You’re arguement is completely wrong.

/end of paraphrasing

Do you see the problem? You didn’t actually stick to the topic, which was is equal access to the judicial system a good thing, and instead you took an example I used to demonstrate how confusing the legal system is (supporting the idea that it does not allow equal access) and made a disparging comment about how dare I use it as an example in a comment under an article about a company sueing another company.

In summation, daPrinz, you fail.

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