U.S. District Court Judge Alsup denied Apple's motion to dismiss Psystar's case against it in Florida on Thursday. The denial means that, at least for now, the unauthorized Mac clone maker is free to pursue its parallel case against Apple in Florida while Judge Alsup moves forward in Northern California.
Apple and Psystar have been battling in court in California for several months over whether or not the PC maker can build and sell Mac clones without permission from Apple. The company made a surprise move at the end of August by filing a similar case in Florida with the assertion that a separate case is warranted because Mac OS X 10.6, or Snow Leopard, wasn't covered in the California court proceedings.
According to Psystar, the case that's before Judge Alsup in U.S. District Court in Northern California has always focused on Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, and Apple never made any indication that it planned on rolling Snow Leopard into the mix. Apple, however, claimed Snow Leopard is a derivative work and asked Judge Alsup to force Psystar to drop its case in Florida.
Judge Alsup ruled against Apple, clearing the path for Psystar's parallel case in Florida because he felt Apple hindered the PC maker's ability to include Snow Leopard in the discovery process. The ruling could put Apple and Psystar back at the starting block in Florida to face another Judge over the same arguments that Judge Alsup has already ruled on.
"If Snow Leopard was within the scope of its own complaint herein, as it now suggests, then Apple should have welcomed discovery theron rather than, as it did, object to discovery directed at Snow Leopard and effectively taking Snow Leopard out of the case," Judge Alsup said.
"This is too severe a sanction for the discovery abuse that Judge Alsup found, especially in light of Psystar's discovery abuse in this case, which included lying in open court," an attorney familiar with this type of case told The Mac Observer. "Keeping the case in California, contingent on Apple paying some monetary sanction, would have been the more appropriate remedy for the discovery abuse identified by Judge Alsup."
Judge Alsup's ruling isn't necessarily the final word on the matter. Apple can ask the Judge to reconsider his decision or try to appeal.
If Apple can convince the court to change its mind, Psystar's case in Florida could still be dismissed. If not, the two companies will find themselves squaring off in two courts, and unless Psystar has very deep pockets loaded with cash, Apple will be in a much better position to take on both cases at the same time.