Apple, Psystar Case Gears Up For the Long Haul

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.