Apple Questions Psystar Legal Tactics

Unauthorized Mac clone maker Psystar filed a new lawsuit against Apple in Florida over Mac OS X 10.6 at the end of August, and now Apple has replied to the court questioning the PC maker's tactics. Psystar claimed in its suit that Apple is violating antitrust laws by locking Snow Leopard to its own hardware, and that a new case is reasonable since it has to use different methods to install the new OS on its PCs.

If Psystar's claims sound familiar it's because the should. The company used the same arguments early on in its legal battle with Apple in the Northern California District Court. Those arguments were shot down by Judge Alsup, the Judge that's overseeing the California case.

In addition to dealing with Judge Alsup in California, Psystar must now also contend with Judge Hoeveler in Florida, and there's no guarantee that he will buy into the arguments that have already been rejected in California. Psystar may, in fact, have trouble convincing Judge Hoeveler that the introduction of Snow Leopard merits its own case.

"Psystar must show that there are new facts that give rise to new legal claims and/or defenses with respect to Snow Leopard. This is an important point, that the Florida case is solely about Snow Leopard and not Leopard, and is the fatal weakness in Psystar argument that its filing in Judge Hoeveler's court is proper," an attorney familiar with antitrust cases told The Mac Observer.

Part of Psystar's argument in the Florida court hinges on the validity of Apple's end user license agreement for Mac OS X and whether or not circumventing the software that binds the OS to the hardware is a violation of the DMCA and copyright laws. Since that's the same battle Psystar is fighting in California, it will likely have a hard time convincing Judge Hoeveler that a new case should be granted.

"OS X is OS X. And even though Snow Leopard is meant to be an enhancement of Leopard, the EULA is the same," the attorney said. "Therefore, the legal issues are the same, and all of those legal issues with respect to the violation of antitrust law and injuries suffered by Psystar are the same, and Psystar could have raised them earlier in California. That it failed to do so is its fault."

Apple's response to Psystar's claims asserted that there aren't any new factual or legal issues that surfaced because of Snow Leopard's release, and that Psystar should have turned to Judge Alsup seeking an amendment to its complaint instead of starting a parallel case in Florida. Apple also pointed out that Judge Alsup already rejected the claims Psystar is now making, and suggests that the company is attempting to stall the proceedings in California.

In addition to potentially delaying the schedule in Judge Alsup's court, Psystar's new case will add an even larger legal financial burden for itself as well as Apple. Apple will likely be able to handle the extra costs, but the Florida case may raise new questions about where Psystar is coming up with the money to pay for its legal defense.

Unless Psystar can convince Judge Hoeveler that the new case should proceed, it will likely be dropped or transferred to Judge Alsup in California.

Apple and Psystar are scheduled to appear before Judge Alsup in California on September 4 to discuss discovery dispute claims from Psystar along with the company's case filing in Florida.

Despite the ongoing legal battle, Psystar is still selling its Mac clones, and is planning on shipping PCs with Snow Leopard pre-installed in the coming days, too. "We have developed new virtualization technologies to allow our Open Computers to interface with the all new Mac OS X like never before, ensuring a seamless computing experience. We support Snow Leopard on all new Psystar machines and we're already taking orders for computers with the latest OS from Apple," the company said on its Web site.