Judge Hands Apple Complete Victory Over Psystar, Grants Full Injunction

Apple vs. PsystarJudge William Alsup granted Apple's request for a permanent injunction against erstwhile Mac cloner Psystar. That injunction prevents Psystar from selling Mac clones, selling or copying Mac OS X in any incarnation, installing Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, circumventing Apple's control measures that prevent Mac OS X from being installed on non-Apple hardware, selling or other distributing technology that allows such circumvention, or helping anyone in such circumvention efforts.

In short, Apple won what amount to a complete and total victory in its legal battle to stop Psystar from selling unauthorized Macs or from selling and/or distributing Rebel EFI.

Holiday Season in Cupertino

"This ruling will mean a Merry Christmas for Apple, Inc.," an attorney who has been following the case told TMO, "but for Psystar Inc, the new year brings the end of their business in Mac clones and circumvention technology, unless either Judge Alsup or the Ninth Circuit grants a stay of Judge Alsup's Order, pending appeal."

Psystar has said it would appeal the ruling that lead to this injunction, and that appeal will be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, should that court decide to accept the case.

In his ruling, which was obtained by TMO, Judge Alsup made it clear that he would not tolerate stalling or delaying on the part of Psystar, and ordered the company to comply with the injunction no later than December 31st, 2009.

"Defendant must immediately begin this process," Judge Alsup wrote, "and take the quickest path to compliance; thus, if compliance can be achieved within one hour after this order is filed, defendant shall reasonably see it done." [Emphasis added by TMO]

Much of the rest of the ruling was written in similarly unequivocal language, and the judge stipulated that Psystar is not allowed to conduct a fire sale on its existing supply Open(Whatever) computers with Mac OS X installed.

Rebel EFI

As of this writing, Psystar is still advertising its Mac OS X system, though all are listed as being "Out of Stock." Rebel EFI, Psystar's software that allows Mac OS X to boot on non-Apple hardware, is listed as still being available for US$49.99, and TMO was able to download a two-hour trial version of the software.

Judge Alsup's ruling specifies that Rebel EFI is not included in the injunction per se, as, in Judge Alsup's determination, Psystar worked hard to keep Rebel EFI out of the proceedings and had asked for a specific exclusion for the software in the court's injunction.

However, Judge Alsup noted that while he would not grant an exclusion on a product about which he knew little, if the software falls under the above-mentioned terms of the injunction (for instance, should it turn out that Rebel EFI is software that allows users to circumvent Apple's Mac OS X control measures), that it would, indeed be covered by that injunction.

"Psystar -- if it continues to do so -- sells Rebel EFI at its peril," the judge wrote.

Snow Leopard

Psystar had attempted to exclude Snow Leopard from the proceedings, trying to find what it hoped would be a friendlier court in its home state of Florida. Judge Alsup, however, ruled in his injunction that Snow Leopard will be included, leaving it to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to decide if it wants to intrude on Judge Alsup's ruling in the case that is pending there.

In this aspect of his ruling, Judge Alsup expressed displeasure at Apple, who had originally sought to keep Snow Leopard, which hadn't been released when this case began, out of the proceedings until Psystar launched its own case against Apple for Snow Leopard in the Florida court.

"The high-handed unilateral self-help by Apple certainly smacked of trying to 'have it both ways'," he wrote, "and offended the undersigned's sense of fair play."

Despite this, however, Judge Alsup wrote that the situation "clearly favors the extension of a permanent injunction to future copyrighted works."

Addressing the practical realities of operating system updates, the judge's ruling headed off all future infringement.

"The inclusion of future works within the scope of an injunction ensures that litigation need not be needlessly replicated when the defendant's infringing acts are the same, but the copyrighted work has changed."