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Apple, Psystar Reach Partial Settlement

Psystar logo
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Apple and upstart Mac clone maker Psystar have agreed to a partial settlement that will have Psystar stop pre-installing Mac OS X on its Intel-based Mac clones. Although full details of the proposed partial settlement are not available, the deal would apparently leave Psystar in the business of selling generic PCs and leaving customers to their own devices to obtain and install Mac OS X on those systems to turn them into Mac clones. Psystar would also have to pay Apple an unspecified amount in damages for copyright infringement, but only once the company has exhausted the entire appeals process.

The news comes two weeks after a U.S. District court ruled heavily in Apple’s favor in its dispute with Mac clone maker Psystar, finding that Psystar violated Apple copyrights by pre-installing versions of Mac OS X on Psystar computers. The judge also ruled that Psystar violated the anti-trafficking and anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA).

The settlement would have Apple dismiss its remaining trademark claims against Psystar, as well as pending legal action under state laws. Psystar is also arguing that its Rebel EFI application for installing operating systems on Intel-based hardware be excluded from any agreement with Applw. Rebel EFI is a $50 utility Psystar is selling via its Web site that lets users install compatible operating systems—including Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” as well as Windows 7 and Linux distributions—on generic Intel hardware. Psystar argues Rebel EFI is solely Psystar’s own work, separate from Mac OS X and that is not sold with hardware.

If it goes through, the partial settlement would seem to put an end to Psystar selling Intel-based computers with Mac OS X pre-installed; instead, customers would be left to their own devices to install an operating system on Psystar hardware. Psystar apparently believes that users of its Rebel EFI application who install Mac OS X on Psystar hardware would not be subject to legal action by Apple so long as they do not engage in commercial use.

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Geoff Duncan
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