Mac clone maker sues Apple over Snow Leopard

Psystar claims it's just like Microsoft, Google in new antitrust lawsuit filed in Florida

Mac clone maker Psystar last week sued Apple for a second time, charging that it illegally ties the new Snow Leopard operating system to its hardware.

Psystar also asked a federal judge in Florida to rule that the small company has the right to purchase copies of Snow Leopard on the open market and use them to install Mac OS X 10.6 on the machines it sells.

"By tying its operating system to Apple-branded hardware, Apple restrains trade in personal computers that run Mac OS X, collects monopoly rents on its Macintoshes, and monopolizes the market for 'premium computers,'" said Psystar's lawsuit, filed last Wednesday. "Apple's share of revenue in the market for premium computers -- computers priced at over $1,000 -- is currently 91%."

Last month, retail market research company NPD Group estimated that Apple controls 91% of the $1,000-and-up market, a fact that got significant play in the media and on blogs.

The antitrust angle in the new lawsuit is a repeat of Psystar's strategy of more than a year ago, when it accused Apple of violating the Sherman and Clayton Acts. A federal judge in California tossed out Psystar's claims last November, however.

Psystar said that the situation with Snow Leopard is completely different.

"This case raises a wholly separate set of issues [from] those in Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp...because that case is limited to Psystar computers running Mac OS X Leopard," the company's lawyer's argued. "Both the technical mechanisms used by Apple to tie Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Macintoshes and the technology used by Psystar to get Mac OS X Snow Leopard to run on Psystar computers are new and different and not within the scope of the California litigation."

Psystar asked the Florida court to award it treble damages and force Apple to stop tying Mac OS X to its Mac hardware in the operating system's end user license agreement (EULA), as well as through technical tricks that check to see whether the computer starting Snow Leopard is a real Mac.

Last week's filing spent most of 14 pages trying to convince the judge to fire a preemptive strike at Apple.

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