Psystar loses Hackintosh case against Apple

Over the past few years, Psystar has quickly made a name for itself. The company's OpenMac product meant that would-be Apple customers could get their OS X fix from elsewhere. The US Court of Appeals has ruled, however, that the product violates Mac OS X copyrights and will not be allowed to be sold.

Apple's struggle against Psystar dates back to 2008, when the manufacturer came onto the scene in April of that year. It didn't take long for Apple to respond, and in July the company took Psystar to court for copyright violation, as well as breaking the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In December 2009, the courts ruled in Apple's favour and granted them a permanent injunction against Psystar. The court's reasoning was that Psystar "violated Apple's exclusive reproduction right, distribution right, and right to create derivative works."

According to CNET, this recent ruling is the result of Psystar's efforts to overturn the previous ruling through the Appeals Court. Mary Schroeder, the circuit judge, decided to uphold the previous court's decision and maintain the permanent injunction. What this means for Hackintosh enthusiasts in general remains to be seen, but Psystar's court case has at the very least set the precedent for any future cases against other Hackintosh distributors.

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11 Comments

I still don't understand how it is illegal to sell a Hackintosh... How does it violate patents? They're taking software legally purchased (presumably), using either open source or proprietary software to make the OS think it should run, and then selling the combination. According to the First-sale doctrine, once they've bought OS X, they can legally resell it. As far as being allowed to install it on 3rd party hardware, the only restriction to that should be the EULA, and the EULA isn't a legal agreement; it's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that Apple put together; it shouldn't have legal standing (at least for certain issues, such as this). Apple or Microsoft could just as easily state in their EULA that you cannot use their OS to research information on Linux, but that would have as much legal standing as stating that OS X cannot be installed on 3rd party hardware.

Am I missing something?

agreenbhm said,
I still don't understand how it is illegal to sell a Hackintosh... How does it violate patents? They're taking software legally purchased (presumably), using either open source or proprietary software to make the OS think it should run, and then selling the combination. According to the First-sale doctrine, once they've bought OS X, they can legally resell it. As far as being allowed to install it on 3rd party hardware, the only restriction to that should be the EULA, and the EULA isn't a legal agreement; it's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that Apple put together; it shouldn't have legal standing (at least for certain issues, such as this). Apple or Microsoft could just as easily state in their EULA that you cannot use their OS to research information on Linux, but that would have as much legal standing as stating that OS X cannot be installed on 3rd party hardware.

Am I missing something?

Read the article - NOTHING has been said about patents, the issue is about copyright and licensing.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Read the article - NOTHING has been said about patents, the issue is about copyright and licensing.

The issue is that the licensing for OS X allows you to run it on Apple hardware and nothing else. What people don't understand is that you don't "buy" software and then have the ability to use it in any way you want. You license the software and may use it according to the terms of the license agreement. Yes, the EULA is binding.

The example of MS putting a restriction on using their products to research Linux is too dumb to make a comparison. Software companies have put pretty dumb things in their EULA before. Sun Microsystems long ago stated that OS licenses where nontransferable (they also had the same hardware lock-in as Apple, basically making it impossible to ever sell used Sun computers). That ended up being overturned in court siting the first sale doctrine. Apple's hardware restriction has not been overturned and is legally binding even if you don't agree with it. Installing a copy of OS X on 3rd party hardware is just as illegal as if you had downloaded it from Pirate Bay.

agreenbhm said,
I still don't understand how it is illegal to sell a Hackintosh... How does it violate patents? They're taking software legally purchased (presumably), using either open source or proprietary software to make the OS think it should run, and then selling the combination. According to the First-sale doctrine, once they've bought OS X, they can legally resell it. As far as being allowed to install it on 3rd party hardware, the only restriction to that should be the EULA, and the EULA isn't a legal agreement; it's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that Apple put together; it shouldn't have legal standing (at least for certain issues, such as this). Apple or Microsoft could just as easily state in their EULA that you cannot use their OS to research information on Linux, but that would have as much legal standing as stating that OS X cannot be installed on 3rd party hardware.

Am I missing something?

Among other things, Psystar circumvented DRM which is illegal.

This is the whole problem with "licensing" products and not "selling them"

Most Software (nearly all actually) is handled this way for precisely this level of control. If you don't want that, you're going to have to go Open Source unfortunately.

I wonder when we'll get groceries which are "licensed" to eat....

Wiggz said,
This is the whole problem with "licensing" products and not "selling them"

Most Software (nearly all actually) is handled this way for precisely this level of control. If you don't want that, you're going to have to go Open Source unfortunately.

I wonder when we'll get groceries which are "licensed" to eat....

Anything that is mainly intellectual property will be licensed. Software, books, CDs, Movies, ect... If you actually bought the rights to those things you would be legally able to redistribute them if you wanted to. I know that isn't the point you were trying to make, but it is why things are licensed and not sold, so that the intellectual property can be protected.

It is true that if you don't like a company's license agreement you should look elsewhere. In the business world it is not uncommon for a seemingly minor condition in the license agreement to change to buy a product.

I understand why Apple would want to limit their Operating System to specific hardware to limit bugs and whatnot. however, its just stupid from a consumer perspective because it leaves less of a chance for people to buy the product due to the "Apple Tax" of products costing well above market average.

littleneutrino said,
I understand why Apple would want to limit their Operating System to specific hardware to limit bugs and whatnot. however, its just stupid from a consumer perspective because it leaves less of a chance for people to buy the product due to the "Apple Tax" of products costing well above market average.

Its more about brand name and image via quality control. Apple, did (and to some extent bar the iphone4 issue) have very good hardware quality control even if it is more expensive then other OEM and retail providers. However, Apple do and continue to provide an OS that is built around the hardware they sell.
Having multiple venders providing Apple mac clones creates issues with the Mac brand when one of the venders doesn't provide quality hardware or services or the hardware fails and the aftercare is poor resulting in the Apple experiance of 'computers for stupid people' where they just work.
Even today, we see main stream PC machines being shipped with lots of issues out of the box, its something that you just shouldn't get with a Apple machine. Of course there are going to be exceptions to the rule, but that exception is exactly what Apple want to keep control of. For a lot of people, they won't remember when apple used to license clones hardware out to venders and all the problems it created.

In saying all that, Personally, although I do like the Apple designs from past machines, including some that never really sold well or had design flaws (ie Apple's cube) I think the PC can provide more then enough what Apple gives these days if you find a reputable business to supply a PC built from well supported hardware. If you can build your own PC, I can't really see a reason to buy a Mac these days unless you really want that apple experiance, and that comes at a premium.

They make money off the hardware instead of the software, so that's part of their reason also. It's not just "wholesale" pricing like PC manufacturers.

As for support and bugs, I can't really see why they don't allow this, but then not offer support unless it's genuine Apple hardware. That would still probably devalue their brand.

farmeunit said,
They make money off the hardware instead of the software, so that's part of their reason also. It's not just "wholesale" pricing like PC manufacturers.

As for support and bugs, I can't really see why they don't allow this, but then not offer support unless it's genuine Apple hardware. That would still probably devalue their brand.

Even if they didn't offer support, people would still try. Would be a waste of time and resources having to answer most of your tickets with "We don't support that product"

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