Psystar Pushes to Reveal Leopard Installation Protection Code

Apple and Psystar's already hostile relationship took a turn for the worse when the unauthorized PC maker told the court that the technical measures Apple uses to restrict installation of Mac OS X to Mac hardware should be made public. The two companies have been battling in U.S. District Court in Northern California over whether or not Psystar can make and sell Mac clones without Apple's permission.

The measures Apple uses to keep Mac OS X from installing on non-Mac computers along with Psystar's method for circumventing them have been have been filed under seal, which accounts for some of the heavy redaction on the publicly available court filings. Psystar, however, has decided that it wants Apple's trade secrets along with its steps for working around them made public.

According to Psystar, information about Apple's protection scheme is already available on the Internet, so there's no reason to protect the information in court. The information that is available, however, will likely be seen as illicit and in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. If so, Judge Alsup, the official overseeing the case, could see that as a reason to shoot down Psystar's motion.

Not surprisingly, Apple filed a response to Psystar's motion to make the information public that argues the current policy should stay in place. "Publicly disclosing the sealed information at issue would harm [Apple] competitively by encouraging others to engage in the same conduct, infringing on Apple's copyright in OS X," an attorney familiar with intellectual property law told The Mac Observer.

While Psystar is attempting to convince Judge Alsup that protecting the information serves no purpose, Apple is working to convince him that its business model would suffer.

Psystar's motion to reveal Apple's trade secrets would also make its own public -- essentially destroying its own business model since every PC maker would have the steps necessary to make Mac clones dropped in their laps. "By disclosing how it circumvents Apple's technical protections, Psystar destroys whatever proprietary rights that it might have in its means of circumvention and, thus, impairs its own business as a maker of Mac clones by commoditizing its business model," the attorney said.

In other words, Psystar is attempting to destroy its only means of competition against other companies that might want to make Mac clones.

Psystar may be attempting to pressure Apple into settling the case before it goes to trial, or this could be another hint that the PC maker has its own agenda. Speculation that Psystar has hidden financial backers directing its actions surfaced early in the case, and many have questioned how the little company could pay for the extended legal battle on its own.

Considering that Psystar has filed a parallel case against Apple in Florida, the company will need to have some deep pockets -- either its own, or someone else's. Conducting dual legal battles in opposite ends of the country isn't cheap, and finding legal teams that work for free isn't easy.