Judge Greenlights Psystar's Amended Counterclaims Against Apple

Psystar has received approval from Judge William Alsup to move forward with its amended counterclaims against Apple over allegations that it has been selling Mac clones without the Cupertino-based company's permission. Judge Alsup will allow Psystar to amend its pleading for misuse of copyright, but seems to make it clear that amendments to anticompetition claims against Apple won't be allowed.

According to Judge Alsup, while Apple may be able to assert how its software is distributed and licensed, the company did not present a compelling argument to block Psystar from claiming that it should be able to sell computers with Mac OS X installed.

"Apple responds that it is within its rights to determine whether, how or by whom its software is reproduced and how it is to be licensed, distributed or used. This may ultimately prove to be true," Judge Alsup said in his order. "Apple, however, identifies no reason to bar the claims as a matter of law at the pleading stage. This order declines to find the claims futile."

Psystar found itself in the middle of a legal battle with Apple after it began selling PCs with Mac OS X installed without authorization. Apple alleged that Psystar was violating the end user license agreement (EULA) for Mac OS X, and Psystar countered that Apple was abusing monopoly status and copyright laws.

Judge Alsup dimissed Pystar's counterclaims in November 2008, calling them "unenlightening." He also gave the company the chance to file amended complaints.

An attorney familiar with this type of case commented anonymously "Apple could not persuade Judge Alsup at this juncture that Psystar's claim of misuse of copyright had no basis in law so that no matter what facts could be proved, Psystar's claim of misuse of copyright would be legally deficient. However, this does not mean that Psystar has proved its claim of misuse of copyright."

Since the doctrine of copyright misuse is a vague area, the outcome of this case could help establish a new precedent for copyright use should Psystar win in court. The likelihood that Psystar will win, however, seem small.

"Now the matter appears to turn on whether Psystar can adduce facts sufficient to prove that Apple in its EULA has gone beyond what Copyright Act permits. I don't think that Psystar can do that, but now we will see what the facts show against thin precedents and the legal standards."