Will Psystar Represent A Key Case Concerning Enforceability Of EULAs?

from the let-the-lawsuits-begin! dept

A few weeks back, a company named Psystar made some news by offering to sell PCs with Mac OS X installed. This raised questions about how legit this offer was. After all, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple years back, he killed off all licensing deals that allowed any kind of Mac clones. However, the company has been showing off the clones it's created. Now, the questions are all about whether or not Psystar's actions are legal. The company (of course) says it is legal, and that it's buying a legal copy of the operating system and installing it on PC hardware. However, the end user license agreement (EULA) includes the following:
"This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so."
That would seem to preclude what Psystar is doing. The News.com article above does an excellent job laying out the legal issues here. While the courts have found various clickthrough EULAs enforceable (even though no one -- including the companies themselves seem to read through them), it's possible that Psystar could attack the EULA from other directions. As the article notes, it could try to use the first sale doctrine (which allows you to resell copyrighted products you've bought) but that likely won't fly. What may be most effective (even if it's still a long shot under the law) is to claim that the EULA illegally "ties" the software to Apple's own hardware. However, making a claim about tying is quite complicated, and it seems unlikely that Psystar would prevail. This seems unfortunate for the market -- as getting some additional competition into the market would only help drive innovation. But, under the current law, it's difficult to see how Psystar can win.

Filed Under: apple os, eulas, first sale, license agreement, tying
Companies: apple, psystar


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  1. identicon
    Freedom, 5 May 2008 @ 8:50am

    Mistake....

    Apple/Steve Jobs is already getting a bad reputation by some due to his intense need to control the Apple experience.

    By putting legal pressure on this company that wants to do nothing but promote your OS and get it into more hands will ultimately do nothing but hurt Apple - think Creative Labs going after the guy making a better driver and what that did to their reputation.

    SJ should look at this as an opportunity and release that there are only so many people that will buy a package deal from Apple and the best way to continue adding market share is to expand and let others help you. If I was SJ, I would call this company and offer them a license deal to sell the OS instead of trying to stop them.

    My hunch though is that SJ will do what he always does, control freak himself to ensure he stays in the #2 position for life.

    Freedom

    P.S. Maybe this company should just say that while not supported by Apple that their hardware will load the Apple OS with little to no tweaks required. This way, they aren't directly selling the Apple OS, but giving people a platform that will work with the Apple OS without having to deal with the crazy driver search that is often necessary if using a standard PC.

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