Apple Sues Copycat Psystar

Dennis Faas's picture

American company Psystar began selling a copy of Mac's PC for $399 in April and already Apple is ready to bite back for the infringement.

Look-alikes are everywhere in today's consumer market. However, in the world of electronics, companies are much more careful than other industries about copyright. Although unable to handle normal software updates, Psystar's cloned tower is able to run the Leopard operating system (OS). (Source:

According to Apple Insider, Apple delayed its decision to file a lawsuit because it was only at the beginning of this month that Psystar began to sell "a modified version of the Mac OS X 10.5.4 Leopard update" to owners of its products. (Source:

Psystar's piracy of Apple was initially very blatant. The $399 tower was originally called "OpenMac", and later changed to "Open Computer". Psystar promises to pre-install Leopard on its faux-Mac products, a move that contravenes Apple's end-user license agreement (EULA), which stipulates that Mac operating systems can only be run on Apple products.

Psystar has yet to respond to the suit and initial filings are not due until October, so the outcome could be a long ways away.

The suit brings up an interesting debate over whether Apple's EULA is fair. On the one hand, it ensures that sales remain high -- if purchasers of a MacBook, for example, are forced to use OS X or Leopard, and vice versa. On the other, however, it means that Mac has created a frustratingly limited world in which to do business.

The question is, where does the consumer stand?

Apple is entirely within its rights in slamming down the law on copycat producers like Psystar, especially if they are pirating and altering their software. But the bigger question is, is it right for Apple to disallow consumers from using its operating systems on non-Apple products?

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