Psystar starts selling Mac clones with Snow Leopard

Charges $US70 for new OS, warns existing customers not to upgrade older clones

Mac clone maker Psystar isn't waiting for a federal judge to give it the green light to sell systems with Apple 's new Snow Leopard operating system, according to the company's Web site.

"We support Snow Leopard on all new Psystar machines and we're already taking orders for computers with the latest OS from Apple [that] will begin to ship next week," said Psystar in an anonymous posting on its company blog Monday.

Psystar's order page lists Snow Leopard as a $US69.99 optional upgrade from the default Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard.

The Snow Leopard upgrade, however, also includes a copy of Apple's iLife and iWork creative and productivity suites.

But at the same time, the Florida-based maker of Mac clones warned existing customers not to try upgrading their generic Intel-based computers to Snow Leopard on their own. Doing so, said Psystar "may cause harm to your computer."

The company failed to say why users shouldn't upgrade to Snow Leopard, or provide any guidance on how, or even whether, specific systems can be updated to Mac OS X 10.6.

"We will be releasing information on upgrading your Psystar computer to OS X Snow Leopard soon," said the blog. "The ability to do so may depend on when your system was purchased, and upgrade costs may vary."

A week ago, Psystar sued Apple a second time, accusing it of illegally tying Snow Leopard to its hardware.

In the lawsuit, Psystar also asked a Florida federal judge to rule that it has the right to purchase copies of Snow Leopard on the open market and use them to install Mac OS X 10.6 on the machines it sells.

The antitrust angle in the new lawsuit is a repeat of Psystar's strategy of more than a year ago, when it accused Apple of violating the Sherman and Clayton Acts. A California federal judge tossed out Psystar's claims last November.

In its Aug. 26 filing in Florida, Psystar said that the situation with Snow Leopard is completely different from the already-ongoing case in California.

Not surprisingly, Apple disagreed. In its own filing Monday, Apple argued that the two cases are so similar that either they should be consolidated, or the newest lawsuit should be thrown out.

"Psystar should not be allowed to re-assert in a new action the antitrust claims that this Court dismissed and that Psystar chose not to amend," read Apple's latest filing to the California court.

"Nor should Psystar be permitted to simultaneously litigate, in another forum, the same subject matter pending in this case and before this Court."

Apple's lawyers called Psystar's action "a clear example of forum-shopping at its worst," and cast it as another delaying tactic by the clone maker.

"Psystar should not be allowed to delay resolution of the disputes between Apple and Psystar yet again through procedural tactics of filing yet another action in Florida, in addition to its prior tactic of filing for bankruptcy in Florida," Apple said.

Psystar filed for bankruptcy in late May, but reversed itself two months later after it was unable to reach a payment plan with its legal team at the time.

A mid-June decision -- that the case should continue, even though Psystar had filed for bankruptcy -- also played a part.

Apple and Psystar have been waging legal war since July 2008, when Apple sued Psystar over copyright infringement and software licensing charges. The case is slated to go to jury trial on Jan. 11, 2010.

Apple has not yet officially responded to last week's lawsuit filed by Psystar in Florida.

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Tags mac clonesApplepsystarsnow leopardMac OS X

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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