Apple Moves to Kill Psystar's Florida Case

Unauthorized Mac clone maker Psystar is pushing to keep its case against Apple alive in Florida, and Apple wants the court to force the company to drop it. Along with its dual legal battles, Psystar is planning on selling USB dongles that turn any PC into a Mac clone, too.

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, isn't covered in the California court.

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, is claiming that Snow Leopard is a derivative work and is asking Judge Alsup to force Psystar to drop its case in Florida.

"Psystar's primary argument is that Apple's Amended Complaint does not reach alleged infringement of Snow Leopard, because Snow Leopard was not copyright and not in the market when Apple filed its Amended Complaint," an attorney familiar with this type of case told The Mac Observer.

The company also claimed that Apple never filed a copyright for Snow Leopard, although it appears that Apple filed its Snow Leopard copyright in September 11 -- several days after its August 28 launch, but still within the acceptable filing window. Even if Apple hadn't filed its Snow Leopard copyright, however, the new version of the operating system was still protected.

"Derivatives works, such as Snow Leopard, are covered under the federally registered copyright for the original work and, in any event, Apple has duly copyrighted Snow Leopard," the attorney said. "Therefore, Apple's Amended Complaint expressly includes infringement of Snow Leopard," which means Snow Leopard should be considered as an issue in the California court instead of Florida.

While Apple is dealing with the possibility of facing off against Psystar in Florida at the same time it is dealing with the court in California, it now has to deal with an additional headache: Psystar plans to sell USB dongles with Snow Leopard and the necessary code to turn any PC into a Mac clone. The company has continued to sell its Leopard-based PCs, and recently added computers with Snow Leopard pre-installed to its lineup, too.

Psystar hasn't said when it plans on brining its dongles to market or how much they will cost. Considering how many potential PC configurations are available, releasing the product could turn into a support nightmare for the company, especially since it is already dumping so much of its resources into fighting Apple in court. It's also possible that Psystar doesn't plan on shipping its clone dongles and instead is hoping to use the threat of the product as leverage for settlement discussions.

If the court decide that Psystar's case against Apple in Florida should be dropped, a lot of the ammunition the company needs for its "guns blazin'" tactics could simply disappear -- and that's bad news for the PC maker, because it looks like Apple's legal guns are still loaded.