Psystar appeals injunction, destroys copies of Mac cloning tool

Takes exception to injunction, but complies by zapping all but one copy of Rebel EFI

Mac clone maker Psystar last week appealed a federal court's injunction that bars it from selling Mac OS X-equipped computers.

Earlier, the company had destroyed all but one copy of its clone-making software to comply with that injunction.

In a filing last Friday to the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Psystar appealed the December 2009 injunction, as well as a critical November 2009 decision that effectively gave Apple the victory in the long-running case ruling.

The injunction, which went into effect on Dec. 31, blocked Psystar from selling any system with Mac OS X preinstalled. Psystar voluntarily suspended sales of its Intel-based Mac clones in early December, when it agreed to pay Apple approximately $2.7 million if it lost appeals of a November decision by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup.

In the November decision, Alsup granted Apple's motion for summary judgment, saying that the Florida company violated Apple's copyright as well as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when it installed Mac OS X on Intel-based computers.

Currently, Psystar is not selling computers or software. Four weeks ago, it halted sales of its one remaining product, a software utility dubbed Rebel EFI that lets customers install Apple's Snow Leopard operating system on their own Intel-based computers. At the same time, Psystar promised it would soon resume PC sales, but said that they would run Linux instead of Mac OS X or Windows.

Psystar has gone beyond simply halting sales of the cloning software and has destroyed all but one copy of the program, according to an injunction compliance report submitted to Judge Alsup Dec. 31, 2009.

In that report, Psystar's chief executive, Rudy Pedraza, said the one remaining copy of Rebel EFI has been handed over to Psystar's lawyers for safekeeping. "Pursuant to an agreement between counsel for both parties...counsel of Psystar is retaining one copy of Rebel EFI (and prior versions of Rebel EFI) and all software used in connection with running OS X on non-Apple computers for use in subsequent litigation," the report stated.

Psystar, which began selling Mac clones in April 2008, has battled Apple in federal court since July 2008, when Apple sued the Doral, Fla. firm, saying it violated copyright laws by pre-installing the Mac operating system on non-Apple hardware.

For its part, Psystar has denied it pirated Apple's software, and said people who purchase Mac OS X should be able to do with it what they want. "If you purchase an off-the-shelf copy of OS X Snow Leopard, its [sic] your right to use that software," said Psystar in a Dec. 22 statement. "A publisher cannot forbid you from reading a book in the bathroom or listening to a music disc while riding your bicycle. There should be no difference in the software realm, no matter how much money Apple or anyone else throws at it."

The only item Psystar has for sale on its site is a $15 tee-shirt that reads, "I sued Psystar" on the front, and "...and all I got was a lousy injunction" on the back. The company is also asking for donations in $20, $50 and $100 amounts.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, send e-mail to or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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