Mac clone maker hires law firm that has beaten Apple before

Psystar retains Carr & Ferrell, which was part of lawsuit that Apple settled for $10M

The Miami-based Macintosh clone maker that was sued by Apple Inc. earlier this month has retained a law firm that has beaten Apple in the past, court documents show.

In a Monday filing that extended Psystar Corp.'s deadline to respond to Apple's lawsuit, the company was represented by lawyers from Carr & Ferrell LLP, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm that touts its intellectual property (IP) expertise on its Web site.

The stipulation filed Monday, which was agreed to by both Psystar and Apple, gives the former until Aug. 18 to reply to the lawsuit entered into federal court earlier this month. Previously, Psystar had until Monday to respond to a summons issued July 8.

At that time, Apple charged Psystar with multiple counts of violating copyright, trademark, breach-of-contract and unfair-competition laws by installing Mac OS X 10.5 on Intel-based computers that it has sold since April. According to the lawsuit, Psystar violated the Mac OS X end-user licensing agreement (EULA) when it installed Leopard on its OpenComputer desktops and OpenServ servers, both which can be ordered from the company with Apple's operating system onboard.

Psystar has declined comment in the past about the case.

Three attorneys at Carr & Ferrell were listed on the Monday stipulation, including Colby Springer, Christine Watson and Robert Yorio, a partner at the firm.

Both Yorio and Springer were among the lawyers who represented Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Inc. in its patent-infringement case against Apple that started in 2006. The case was settled out of court late last year when Apple agreed to pay Burst $10 million to license its audio- and video-streaming patents. Burst had accused Apple of using its technology in the iPod player and the iTunes online music store.

Burst also took on Microsoft Corp. in a similar patent lawsuit. That case was settled out of court when Microsoft agreed to pay $60 million to end Burst's antitrust and patent-infringement claims. Microsoft's settlement, like Apple's, gave the company nonexclusive rights to Burst's technology.

Yorio also represented Burst in the Microsoft case.

Psystar has a lot riding on the lawsuit, according to one prominent IP attorney. If the small computer maker loses the case and the court grants Apple's requests for relief, Psystar will have to recall all the machines it has sold with Mac OS X preinstalled. That would probably put the clone maker out of business, said Carole Handler, a partner in the IP department at Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon LLP, two weeks ago.

Springer acknowledged receiving an e-mailed request for comment but was not immediately available to answer questions about the case or Carr & Ferrell's background in IP litigation.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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