RealTime IT News

PsyStar Strikes Back at Apple

As expected, upstart PsyStar responded to Apple's copyright infringement suit with a counterclaim of its own Thursday, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. PsyStar's counterclaim charges Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) with restraint of trade, unfair competition and other violations of antitrust law.

PsyStar's counterclaim seeks unspecified compensation and "a declaration as to APPLE'S illicit behavior."

Doral, Fla.-based PsyStar's law firm held a press conference earlier this week in Palo Alto, Calif., where it issued a statement charging Apple with anti-competitive tactics. The law firm, Carr & Ferrell, is based in Palo Alto.

Apple said it had no comment on PsyStar's filing.

Earlier this week, when asked about PsyStar's statement and expectation of a counterclaim, an Apple spokesperson repeated the statement issued at the time of its own suit against the smaller company: "We take it very seriously when we believe people have stolen our intellectual property."

Contrary to Apple's claim of copyright infringement, PsyStar's counterclaim notes that each of its OpenComputer systems ship with a legitimately purchased retail copy of Mac OS X.

Apple doesn't license its OS to run on other computers, but PsyStar said it uses open source-licensed code, including code licensed under Apple's own public source license, to allow its computers to run the MAC OS.

"Issues related to fair use of various intellectual properties by PsyStar also come into play," PsyStar attorney Colby Springer said in a statement.

In its 54-page counterclaim, PsyStar accused Apple of misusing copyright in its end user agreement by requiring that Mac OS X only be used on Apple-labeled hardware.

Through what it charges is this "illicit tying," PsyStar claimed Apple is trying to enforce rights not granted by the Copyright Act and is trying to destroy competition in the "Mac OS Capable computer Hardware Systems market, which is wholly unrelated to any valid copyright," according to the suit.

After rejoining Apple in 1997 and beginning his second tour of duty at the company he co-founded, Apple CEO Steve Jobs ended an OS licensing program that had, in the interim, spawned several Mac-compatible hardware companies.

There are a few oddities in PsyStar's counterclaim that may play into to the companies' cases. For example, the document states that "PsyStar admits that plaintiff launched the Macintosh line of computers in 1984 but otherwise denies the allegation that plaintiff is '[a] pioneer of the personal computer revolution.'"

It went on to acknowledge the Macintosh utilized a mouse, icons and graphical user interface "but lacks information or knowledge as to whether said components and functionality were novel and on that basis denies the remainder of the allegation."

PsyStar also denied in its counterclaim that it encouraged or assisted anyone in breaking license agreement for Apple's operating system.