Psystar Loses Appeal to Sell Mac Clones

Posted by at 12:24 am on September 30, 2011

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Psystar’s appeal over its loss to Apple. The decision upheld an earlier verdict that the Florida PC builder was violating Apple’s copyrights for Mac OS X through its promotions and violating the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) through hacks that got Mac OS X to load on generic Intel hardware. Psystar’s lone win was a right to public access of court records, denying Apple’s request to seal them after the court procedure was finished.

Psystar tried to stand out among typical Windows PC builders in April 2008 by making Apple’s OS an option alongside Windows and other choices. Apple quickly sued, but Psystar despite its size fought back. Most of its arguments were tenuous claims around the validity of Apple’s end user agreements and licenses, including the odd claim that Apple had a monopoly over its own ecosystem.

The court didn’t accept Psystar’s view, noting that Apple was competing against Windows PC builders, not itself. Apple eventually won a permanent ban on the unauthorized use of Mac OS X at the end of 2009. A handful of other outfits tried to emulate Psystar’s model but were shut down much faster as they didn’t want to risk the court costs for a minor gain.

Apple’s refusal to license its OS for clones during Steve Jobs’ second tenure as CEO stemmed both from Jobs’ view that Macs needed to be vertically integrated as well as what he saw happen during the mid 1990s. An attempt to license out clones to Motorola, Power Computing​, and others nearly killed the company as these firms were often willing to sell their systems with much thinner profit margins than Apple, leading few to support Apple’s core Mac business.

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