Apple wins the clone war: Judge rules Psystar can't sell Mac look-alikes

apple-wins-the-clone-war-judge-rules-psystar-cant-sell-mac-lookalikesIn a court case that began last year, Apple (AAPL) charged the young upstart Psystar, which makes Mac knock-offs, with a host of copyright and trademark violations. The venerable computer and consumer electronics company said that Psystar had infringed its copyrights by selling PCs that looked like Macs and ran slightly modified versions of its Mac OS X.

Psystar apparently didn't have much of a case. On Sunday, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled in Apple's favor in a sixteen page decision. The most important part of the court's opinion is that companies cannot resell the Apple OS to consumers because they are "unauthorized copies" which violate Apple's terms of use for the software.

The case demonstrates Apple zeal for going after companies that attempt to compete with it by imitating Apple's most successful products. But Apple does not have the same option regarding cell phone handsets which have similar features to the iPhone, at least not obviously. While Apple does have patents on a number of the iPhone's features, it remains to be seen whether any of the handset companies that have created so-called "iPhone killers" will face action by Apple's legal department.

And Apple has built a moat around the Mac that makes it much harder to compete with than it is for companies to compete with the iPhone. The new Macs use the latest energy-saving silicon process geometries and premium parts such as the Nvidia graphics controller and I/O controller hub, according to Internet Magazine; Apple is willing to spend more money on building computers than its competitors on the assumption that its design and brand will allow it to sell them for more.

Between Apple's legal department and its design team, the Mac has a nearly unassailable position.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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