Cupertino (CA) – Computer company Psystar is now in the middle of what could be a breakthrough legal battle against Apple over its end-user license agreement and whether or not it is breaking antitrust laws.
Psystar made headlines recently when it announced the “OpenMac” computer, a sub-$400 device with Mac OS X under the hood. It carries the same kind of platform that a $2,000 Mac Pro has.
The main difference, though, is that the OpenMac is constructed as a typical PC tower instead of Apple’s sleek and slim form factor. Regardless, the thought of a $399 Mac computer with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Intel GMA 950 graphics, and a 250 GB hard drive was appealing to many.
As might be expected, it didn’t get too far before Apple came in waving its strong legal arm. It accused Psystar of violating its end user license agreement (EULA), which prevents people from selling the Mac operating system on a computer without its consent.
It appears as though Psystar was expecting this, however, because it came right back by claiming the terms of the EULA are in violation of US antitrust regulations. According to allegations by the company, Apple has a markup rate on its computers of 80%, because no one else is allowed to sell devices with Mac OS X.
Apple has face criticism from consumer and business advocates for a long time with its closed-access mentality. Users are locked into very specific service terms if they want an iPhone, it forces content providers to charge a specific price if they want access to the huge iTunes audience, and of course Mac computers have always come from only one manufacturer – Apple.
Apple does not comment on pending litigation.
Update: Psystar has begun selling the OpenMac again today, despite the legal action from Apple. According to a spokesperson in an interview with Computerworld, the company “had been clarifying things all morning … So at the moment, we just have no comment.”