Though the company held on for an admirable 17 months, the inevitable happened this week: Psystar, maker of Mac clones, was ordered by a judge to immediately and permanently stop selling computers with Mac OS X preinstalled.
The Miami-based company, founded by brothers Rudy and Robert Pedraza, tried challenging Apple's assertion that its end-user licensing agreement prevents anyone from installing Mac OS on non-Apple hardware. It argued that Apple is a monopoly that engaged in unfair business practices. But in the end, it was Psystar that was found to have violated Apple's copyright and trademark.
/ Photo: James Martin/CNET
Psystar Open Computer
Power Computing Leading Edge
Unlike Psystar, PearC has continued to operate without any legal hassling from Apple. It appears that's because the company is selling its devices in Germany and found itself a handy loophole. According to PearC, German law dictates that an end-user licensing agreement (EULA) can only apply if it can be seen before purchase. If a customer doesn't see the EULA, it can't very well be sued for it, goes the thinking.
RussianMac, now called Bizon Computers, currently sells a full version of Mac OS X pre-installed on its computers, and has said that it is able to receive automatic system updates from Apple. The company, operating out of Russia since 2007, has been able to skirt Apple's lawyers--so far anyway--by operating outside the U.S.
Apple has been busy clamping down on threats to its computers and operating system since before Psystar's young founder Rudy Pedraza was even born. In 1982, Apple sued Franklin Computing, maker of the Franklin Ace, in an important precedent-setting lawsuit that established that operating systems could be copyrighted.
Apple alleged that much of the Franklin read-only memory (ROM) and operating system had been lifted directly from Apple's versions found on its Apple II. Though Franklin was victorious in the early rounds in lower courts, Apple prevailed when the case was heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
When Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, he decided that legally licensed Mac clone makers were taking profits from Apple. After a dispute with the largest of them all, Power Computing, Apple agreed to acquire the company for $100 million in stock.
In June, a Los Angeles area Mac clone maker announced it would be opening a retail store. It was fairly brazen, considering Psystar's ongoing legal battle. But Quo's founders insisted they would be different. Systems would come with Mac OS X Leopard preinstalled, but customers had to agree to the license when ordering the computer for Quo to install the operating system.
/ Photo: Quo Computing