updated 04:00 pm EDT, Mon August 4, 2008
Psystar: Apple a monopoly?
One of the lawyers representing Mac clone maker Psystar -- which is defending itself in a copyright and trademark infringement suit filed by Apple -- says the case has been "mischaracterized," and is hinting that antitrust laws may come into play. Colby Springer tells Computerworld that the lawsuit is more complicated than just copyright or trademark issues, and suggests that the defense may try to paint Apple as a monopoly, exerting control over its software to limit competition in the hardware business.
Apple filed suit against Psystar in July, claiming the company violated the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) for Mac OS X Leopard. The EULA clearly states that Leopard is licensed only for "Apple-branded" hardware; Springer's lawfirm, however, has successfully tangled with Apple in the past. "And we have an antitrust background," notes Springer.
Apple's choice of attorneys may indicate that it too anticipated a fight over antitrust issues. Springer says that James Gilliland Jr., the first lawyer named in Apple's court filing, has an antitrust background as well as experience in intellectual property and breach-of-contract issues.
Other intellectual property attorneys interviewed by Computerworld say that Psystar would be wise to press its focus. Carol Handler, with Wildman, Harrold, Allan and Dixon, says that Psystar could mount a direct attack on Apple's exclusive marketing license, but that it would not be easy.
"What Psystar might say is, 'What we would like to do is use the Mac operating system's unique features more broadly on a variety of hardware," according to Handler. "I think it's a very, very hard argument to make, but I wouldn't be surprised if they tried."