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Apple dings Psystar for $2.67m, round two heads to Florida

Nilay Patel
12.01.09
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It looks like the first phase of the Apple / Psystar Mac cloning saga is winding towards a conclusion, as the two sides have just filed to wrap up their case with the California court that ruled decisively in favor of Apple last month. As you probably expect, Apple hasn't ceded much ground here: Psystar's agreed to be deemed liable for illegally copying OS X Leopard, bypassing the OS X kernel encryption in violation of the DMCA, and breaching Apple's EULA, all to the tune of $2,675,050. In return, Apple's dropping its various trademark and unfair competition claims, and has promised to hold off on collecting any cash until the various appeals have run their course. Now, considering Apple and Psystar are currently engaged in pretty much the exact same case in Florida over Snow Leopard, we'd say that this agreement isn't much more than a way for both sides to save money and move on to that fight: Apple's already won the bulk of its case against Psystar in California, and spending money to litigate trademark claims we thought were weak when we first read them doesn't really buy Steve any leverage he doesn't already have, while Psystar probably needs to scrimp all the coin it can.

There's one other little wrinkle here, and that's exactly what Apple's eventually going to be able to prevent Psystar from doing. It's certain that the California court will bar Psystar from preloading machines with Leopard, but Psystar's arguing that its new Rebel EFI software shouldn't be covered by any decision, since it wasn't part of the case. That's an interesting argument and definitely worth some consideration -- but it's got some holes in it since Psystar's now admitted that it's liable for contributory and induced copyright infringement and violating the DMCA. As we've said before, Psystar's essentially doing with Rebel EFI what Grokster got smacked by the Supreme Court for doing in 2005: it's trying to build a business around the knowing copyright infringement of customers, and that usually doesn't fly. We'll see what happens -- and Florida awaits.

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