Apple wins key battle against Psystar over Mac clones

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit says that Psystar infringed Apple's copyrights related to Mac OS X.

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CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Psystar's Mac clone.
Psystar's Mac clone Psystar

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has sided with Apple in the company's bitter lawsuit against Psystar.

Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder ruled yesterday that Psystar's Mac clones violated copyrights Apple holds, and the ban on sales will be upheld. According to Schroeder, Psystar specifically violated copyrights Apple holds in Mac OS X, and said that the U.S. District Court's ruling in favor of Apple was just.

Psystar first started selling its Mac clones in April 2008 under the name "OpenMac" after buying copies of Mac OS X on the market and then installing them on its own brand of computers. Soon after, the company changed the name of its devices to "Open Computer."

Even so, Apple filed a copyright infringement suit against the small PC maker in July of that year. Apple argued in its lawsuit that Psystar's clones violated its Mac OS X software licensing agreement and committed "direct and contributory copyright infringement, trademark and trade dress infringement, and violation of state and common law unfair competition laws." Apple also argued that Psystar violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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Although it seemed that Psystar, a small company, would be unable to fight back against the Apple juggernaut, Psystar responded to Apple's lawsuit, arguing in court that the Mac maker was misusing its Mac OS X copyright by requiring customers to only run the software on its own brand of computers.

After a protracted court battle, a U.S. District Court ruled in Apple's favor in 2009, saying that Psystar "violated Apple's exclusive reproduction right, distribution right, and right to create derivative works." The court also said that "Psystar has violated the DMCA by circumventing Apple's protection barrier and trafficking devices designed for circumvention."

In December 2009, Apple was awarded a permanent injunction against Psystar by the district court.

Today's ruling by Schroeder upholds the earlier ruling, and could prove to be the final nail in Psystar's coffin.

However, Psystar did get one parting shot in. Although Apple requested the circuit court seal all of its records related to the case, Schroeder said that there is no reason to do so.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.