Cupertino (CA) – Apple changed the strategy in its legal dealings with Mac clone maker Psystar, which became famous for hacking Mac OS X to run on cheap PCs it calls “Open Computer”. New court filings reveal that Apple will be using the DCMA against the Mac clone maker. The filing also shows that Psystar planned to release Macbook clone this fall.
The five-month old legal battle between Apple and Psystar recently took an interesting turn. According to ZDNet, the Mac maker added new charges to its lawsuit on the day before Thanksgiving that accuse Psystar and ten individuals to have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by bypassing the copy-protection mechanisms used by Apple in Mac OS X. The DMCA specifically criminalizes a circumvention of copy protection technologies and especially covers digital content and software.
Apple wrote in the filing that the DMCA claim is based on “new information that Apple has learned since the filing of its original complaint.” Apple attacks Psystar’s decision to start distributing a software restore disk in August. The disc provides customers with information and tools to install OS X on non-Apple-labeled hardware using the original OS X Install Disc and Psystar’s own software that hacks the original OS X code so that it can run on non-Apple computers, which constitutes a violation of the terms of the OS X license agreement.
Apple noted that Psystar “developed its own code”… that overrides or gets around Apple’s embedded codes. The Mac maker said it has information that Psystar “manufactured, imported, offered to the public, provided or otherwise trafficked a product, device, component, technology, software, or code” used to hack OS X, accusing Psystar of illegally profiting from such a move while Apple has sustained “economic damage.” Apple wrote that exact amount of damage is to be “proven at trial,” adding that it is entitled to recover both the maximum statutory damages allowed and profits that Psystar gained, in addition to attorney fees.
The documents also reveal that, based on Apple’s “information and belief,” Psystar was engaged in developing a notebook this fall that would also run OS X. Some think this is actually the reason why Apple turned to the DMCA to quickly squash the company before it starts selling cheap Macbook knock-offs. The theory has legs since Macbooks represent over half of all Macs sold. Apple also accused Psystar of advertising imminent sales of “additional computers, servers, laptops, and/or hard drives that are preinstalled with or which will run a modified, unauthorized, version of Mac OS X operating system, including but not limited to a product referred to on Psystar’s website as the ‘mobile Open Computer’.”
The DMCA claim puts Psystar in a difficult position, especially now that the judge dismissed Psystar’s antitrust claim against Apple. It will be interesting to see how Psystar reacts to this new allegation, but no amount of spin can hide the fact that the company indeed hacked OS X for the purpose of running it on non-Apple computers. Psystar still sells and markets a desktop Mac clone despite the lawsuit, and it even beat Apple with Blu-ray and additional graphics card support.