Apple Crushes Clone Maker in Court

Apple won a sweeping legal victory against Macintosh clone maker Psystar Corp. Nov. 13 when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled (PDF, courtesy of Groklaw) that Psystar had violated Apple’s copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Judge William Alsup struck what may be a death blow for Psystar by granting Apple’s motion for summary judgment while denying Psystar’s counterclaims.

The only real surprise here was the swiftness and thoroughness of Apple’s victory. Judge Alsup basically ruled that the OS X End User License Agreement (EULA), which prohibits the installation of the software on non-Apple hardware, is legal and means exactly what it says. It is just the latest in a long string of ruling upholding EULAs, sometimes called shrinkwrap or click-wrap licenses.

Judge Alsup sidestepped Psystar's claim that it was protected by the first sale doctrine, which generally gives the buyer of a protected work the right to resell it without the permission of, or any payment to, the copyright holder. The judge said first sale only applies to legal copies and that the way in which Psystar had modified the software to let it run on clones meant that the copies did not meet this standard. The judge rejected out of hand Psystar's claims that it made legal use of Apple's trademarks and that Apple has misued it copyrights.

A hearing on remedies is scheduled for Dec. 14. The order does not cover several other claims by Apple, including breach of contract and trademark infringement, but the ruling suggest that Apple would be heavily favored to win should the remaining case ever come to trial. There is also similar litigation pending in Florida, where Psystar is based.

If you want a Psystar Mac clone--there are six models starting at $600--you probably should order it soon. I don't think they are going to be around for much longer.

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