In Apple Inc. v. Psystar, a California
District Court granted Apple's motion for summary judgment for
copyright infringement against Mac clone manufacturer Psystar,
finding that Psystar had violated Apple's reproduction right,
distribution right and right to create a derivative work in its Mac
OS X operating system. It also dismissed Psystar's
Psystar developed and sold clones of Apple's Macintosh brand
of computers with a modified version of Mac OS X. Psystar bought a
copy of the Mac OS X and installed it on a Mac mini. It then copied
the OS onto a non-Mac computer which became the imaging station.
Psystar removed and replaced the Mac OS X bootloader as well as the
OS X kernel extension files. The kernel extensions were responsible
for locating the hardware decryption keys.
Psystar unsuccessfully relied on Section 117a of the US
Copyright Act, which allows the owner of a copyrighted
program to modify or copy the program for a limited purpose without
incurring liability for infringement. The court found that this
defence could not be asserted as it had not been pled, and further
found that the defence was frivolous in any event. The court also
rejected Psystar's fair-use defence, noting that the defence
did not address the fair-use factors. In addition, Psystar's
attempted reliance on the first-sale doctrine failed, as the court
ruled that this doctrine could only be relied upon where copies are
The court denied Psystar's cross-motion for summary judgment
on copyright misuse. The crux of Psystar's argument was that
Apple's attempt to tie the copyright in Mac OS X to Apple
hardware constituted misuse. The court rejected this argument,
holding that Apple did not violate the public policy underlying
copyright as "Apple has not prohibited purchasers of Mac OS X
from using competitors' products. Rather, Apple has
simply prohibited purchasers from using Mac OS X on
competitors' products ... Apple's [licensing] agreement did
not seek to control all competition in an area outside the
copyright. Rather, Apple's agreement simply attempt[ed] to
control the use of Apple's own software — an area
that is the focus of the copyright."
The court also found Psystar liable for circumvention of
Apple's decryption key, a technical protection measure designed
to prevent access to Mac OS X and to prevent it from running on a
non—Apple computer. Psystar unsuccessfully argued that
the decryption key was publicly available on the Internet and thus
After the ruling, Apple successfully obtained a permanent
injunction against Psystar, prohibiting Psystar from copying and
selling copies of the Mac OS X software without Apple's
permission, from circumventing Apple's technological measures
used to prevent unauthorized copying of Mac OS X on non-Apple
computers, and from aiding and abetting others to infringe the Mac
OS X software. Psystar has reportedly filed an appeal against the
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A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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