RealTime IT News

Apple's Suit Aims to Eclipse PsyStar

Apple has confirmed it's suing Doral, Florida-based startup PsyStar for selling computers using unauthorized copies of Apple's Leopard operating system.

"We take it very serious when we believe people have stolen our intellectual property," Apple spokesperson Susan Lundgren told InternetNews.com. Beyond that, Lundgren said Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had no other comment to make on the suit other than to confirm reports that Apple had taken the legal action against PsyStar last week.

Calls to PsyStar yesterday were not returned. Apple's suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Among Apple's complaints, is that PsyStar's use of Apple's proprietary software and intellectual property has "harmed consumers by selling to them a poor product that is advertised and promoted in a manner that falsely and unfairly implies an affiliation with Apple."

Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs has never been a fan of licensing. When he returned to the company as CEO in 1997, one of his first acts was to shut down a licensing program that allowed other companies to build Mac-compatible computer systems powered by Apple's operating system.

PsyStar started selling a computer called the OpenMac back in May that included a modified version of Apple's operating system. As of today, the PsyStar Web site is still operating and taking orders. It touts the Open Computer as "The Smart Alternative to an Apple."

An FAQ on the site further states: "The idea of the Open Computers is not to pirate the Apple operating system but to allow the Apple operating system to be run on hardware of the user's choosing."

Among other products, PsyStar's cheapest is the Open Computer, a tower system with 2GB of memory, sans monitor, keyboard or mouse, that does include OS X Leopard pre-installed for $554.99.

The accompany product blurb says: "Why spend $1999 to get the least expensive Apple computer with a decent video card when you can pay less than a fourth of that for an equivalent sleek and small form-factor desktop with the same hardware."

Apple's cheapest Mac is the MacMini at $599, with less memory and graphics capability than the Open Computer.

PsyStar also sells downloaded updates for Leopard and servers using the operating system. Apple has asked the court to stop PsyStar from using Leopard and seeks unspecified damages, according to a report by the Bloomberg News service and numerous other news outlets.