Psystar Pushes to Reveal Leopard Installation Protection Code

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Apple and Psystar's already hostile relationship took a turn for the worse when the unauthorized PC maker told the court that the technical measures Apple uses to restrict installation of Mac OS X to Mac hardware should be made public. The two companies have been battling in U.S. District Court in Northern California over whether or not Psystar can make and sell Mac clones without Apple's permission.

The measures Apple uses to keep Mac OS X from installing on non-Mac computers along with Psystar's method for circumventing them have been have been filed under seal, which accounts for some of the heavy redaction on the publicly available court filings. Psystar, however, has decided that it wants Apple's trade secrets along with its steps for working around them made public.

According to Psystar, information about Apple's protection scheme is already available on the Internet, so there's no reason to protect the information in court. The information that is available, however, will likely be seen as illicit and in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. If so, Judge Alsup, the official overseeing the case, could see that as a reason to shoot down Psystar's motion.

Not surprisingly, Apple filed a response to Psystar's motion to make the information public that argues the current policy should stay in place. "Publicly disclosing the sealed information at issue would harm [Apple] competitively by encouraging others to engage in the same conduct, infringing on Apple's copyright in OS X," an attorney familiar with intellectual property law told The Mac Observer.

While Psystar is attempting to convince Judge Alsup that protecting the information serves no purpose, Apple is working to convince him that its business model would suffer.

Psystar's motion to reveal Apple's trade secrets would also make its own public -- essentially destroying its own business model since every PC maker would have the steps necessary to make Mac clones dropped in their laps. "By disclosing how it circumvents Apple's technical protections, Psystar destroys whatever proprietary rights that it might have in its means of circumvention and, thus, impairs its own business as a maker of Mac clones by commoditizing its business model," the attorney said.

In other words, Psystar is attempting to destroy its only means of competition against other companies that might want to make Mac clones.

Psystar may be attempting to pressure Apple into settling the case before it goes to trial, or this could be another hint that the PC maker has its own agenda. Speculation that Psystar has hidden financial backers directing its actions surfaced early in the case, and many have questioned how the little company could pay for the extended legal battle on its own.

Considering that Psystar has filed a parallel case against Apple in Florida, the company will need to have some deep pockets -- either its own, or someone else's. Conducting dual legal battles in opposite ends of the country isn't cheap, and finding legal teams that work for free isn't easy.

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14 Comments Leave Your Own

Tiger

Apple needs to subpoena Psystar to force EVERY single financial backer to make them appear in court before Judge Alsup. Two can play at this game. Steve Jobs should personally question them. Yep, he’ll have to appear too. I bet he’d relish that opportunity.

Jeff Gamet

This Apple v Psystar fight is getting pretty ugly. I’m thinking Psystar and its legal team are trying to find any weakness they can in Apple in hopes of manipulating the proceedings in their favor. Unless something happens that causes Psystar to back out early, I have a feeling this is going to be a very interesting trial come January.

Brad

Pystar needs to go away and die. This is an issue for any company who wants to patent and protect their intellectual property. They should be able to do that. I suspect that Pystar has a little Dell money involved…. Possibly through Mr. Dell’s good friend Mr. Kevin Rollins. This is where I would look first.

Nemo

The other thing that should be mentioned is that Psystar is also requesting that Judge Alsup strike Apple’s entire motion for summary judgment (Motion), because, in Psystar’s view, Apple’s Motion improperly sealed both its technical measures to protect OS X and Psystar’s circumvention of those measures.  However, Apple sealed those documents pursuant to a negotiated and court approved order, and its reasons for sealing are at least arguably compelling and, thus, arguably comply with the 9th Circuit’s standards for sealing documents.  Therefore, Psystar request that Apple’s Motion be struck is a stretch to say the least, which even Psystar recognizes, as it calls its own request a harsh sanction.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

In other words, Psystar is attempting to destroy its only means of competition against other companies that might want to make Mac clones.

Attorneys sometimes say the dumbest things. If Psystar wins a significant portion of the case, it will be the de facto Mac cloner because it has established a brand. Would top tier companies jump on board? Probably not, as Apple would just sue them or demand an expensive license or just refuse to supply those channels. But Psystar would do plenty of business selling court approved Mac clones. This case is a giant billboard for them, which is exactly why Apple should have negotiated a license with them and jerked them into oblivion that way. Apple legal strategy fail.

geoduck

OT (slightly)
When I was in high school someone saw my SAT scores and transcripts and suggested I study law. This was quite possibly the stupidest advice I ever received. Fortunately I laughed it off. This is an example of why I could never make it in the Law. These Phystar creeps are going to prolong this for as long as possible, while they’re collecting a salary. In the end they will lose. Psystar corporation will immediately file for bankruptcy, and the company principals will walk away with money in their pocket. The vendors, law firms, and Apple will be left with all the bills. I hate this.  This kind of back and fourth meanly mouth, paper chase BS drives me NUTS. Nemo in all sincerity, you have my deepest respect in the same way I respect surgeons, or most of the people who appear on Dirty Jobs: It’s a job I simply could not do. I could not be a Lawyer. One week working in a law office and I’d take a long walk off of the 15th floor ledge.
/rant
/OT

jragosta

“Attorneys sometimes say the dumbest things. If Psystar wins a significant portion of the case, it will be the de facto Mac cloner because it has established a brand. Would top tier companies jump on board? Probably not, as Apple would just sue them or demand an expensive license or just refuse to supply those channels”

Thats ridiculous.

If Psystar wins, Apple isn’t going to be able to go after Dell or HP or anyone else. Since any existing vendor can produce far better systems less expensively than Psystar, they would do so - and Psystar would cease to exist within a matter of months.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@jragosta, it’s not ridiculous, you just lack imagination. Are the supply managers at Dell going to make weekly visits to Fry’s to purchase copies of Mac OS X to install and include with their clones? Or do you think they’ll just order from TigerDirect.com?

geoduck

Apple should have negotiated a license with them and jerked them into oblivion that way.

That’s also rediculous.

Apple makes money selling hardware. If Psystar or anyone else ever gets the right, legitimately or otherwise, to mass produce commercial Mac clones, that will cut the legs out of Mac sales and spell the end of Apple as a computer company. Apple must defend their property. It is the only thing that makes Macs different from all the other computers out there.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apple makes money selling hardware. If Psystar or anyone else ever gets the right, legitimately or otherwise, to mass produce commercial Mac clones, that will cut the legs out of Mac sales and spell the end of Apple as a computer company. Apple must defend their property. It is the only thing that makes Macs different from all the other computers out there.

Well, that is patently absurd. Later this afternoon, we’ll find out exactly how many gigabucks Apple has in the bank. With that much money, you could find a way to sell pig semen to racehorse stables. My hunch is that the biggest implication of this case is that Apple will be playing chicken and egg games with cloners much like it does with iPhone jailbreakers if it wants to maintain its de facto monopoly.

Nobody can mass produce Mac clones that will sell in the market without a supply of valid upgrade boxes. Even Psystar appears to have been very careful not to make more copies of Mac OS X than boxes they purchase and ship to the customer.

jbruni

If you’ve been following this on Groklaw, PJ thinks this case is more about attacking the GPL than about selling PC’s pre-loaded with OS X.

John Dingler

If Psystar is the public face of a hidden conspiracy whose plan is to reveal the essential trace secrets of Apple’s crown jewels, allowing all new and existing PC manufacturers to clone a Mac box, you have to look who would least benefit from this radical turn of events: Microsoft because MacOSX would then likely erode its Windows OS market share to a significant-enough degree.

It has to be a hardware company who is perhaps fed up with dealing with the Windows OS.

It has seemed to me that clones do not contribute to OS innovation so, should cloning begin, the MacOS would eventually die as history has indicated and Windows would once again, or some other OS, become dominant. So Windows would have a short term worry but would be OK long term if, of course, it survives.

vince7

Apple will be playing chicken and egg games with cloners much like it does with iPhone jailbreakers if it wants to maintain its de facto monopoly.

When did Apple become a monopoly?  Apple has product lines that they create and control.  People who have a problem with their business can purchase other non-Apple products.  For example, I don’t like anything connected to Google.  So I don’t use gmail, google docs, google search and I will not buy an Android based cellphone.  It is that simple.

What you and others are attempting to do with Apple is like chasing windmills.  Just keep your wallets in your pockets and move on.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@vince7: People who like Apple’s products but don’t like portions of the business model are free to criticize as well. For example, I love my iPhone and everything about it except that the App Store purchase model is too tightly controlled. I even purchase apps. But I’m happy to point out other models. I’ll probably even pick up a Droid in next few months and see if it gives my iPhone a run for its money.

At any rate, I spend a lot on Apple products each year, probably in the top 20% of their single user customer base. It gives me a right to bitch.

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