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OS X: Apple and PC maker Psystar in litigation

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January 14, 2009

Litigation between Apple and computer clone maker Psystar still continues.

Litigation between Apple and computer clone maker Psystar still continues.

Various legal claims are being thrown back and forth between the two companies, ranging from Apple invoking the DMCA, to Psystar saying that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is invalid as far as copyright protection rights are concerned.

But wait-- there's more...

Official court documents reveal that Psystar claims it has acquired its copies of the Mac OS X operating system legitimally, including some directly from Apple itself.

In the latest court documents that were publically on display, Psystar calls upon the "First Sale Doctrine" which made its first appearance in the United States in 1908, but was then made official by the U.S. Congress later only in 1976.

The "First Sale Doctrine" states that buyers may give away or sell copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permissions in the first place.

Psystar then claims:

"Psystar acquired lawful copies of the Mac OS operating system from Apple. Those copies were lawfully acquired from fully-authorized Apple distributors, including some directly from Apple. Psystar paid good and valuable consideration for those copies.

Psystar then disposed of those lawfully acquired operating system copies to third-parties. Once a copyright owner consents to the sale of particular copies of a work, the end-owner may not thereafter exercise distribution rights with respect to those copies."

In conclusion, if Psystar can actually invoke the "First Sale Doctrine" amendment when it comes to software, it would have the effect of creating a precedent. Courts generally accept the fact that software is licensed, not sold, making the first sale doctrine irrelevant in this case.

But there is a similar case regarding Adobe where the courts did agree that software can in fact be sold, so this might be challenged. We will have to wait and see what the outcome will be in the next few weeks.

As is almost always the case, Apple declined to comment on the litigation, which will go to trial in three months from now.

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In other news related to Apple, CEO Steve Jobs said today he will take a leave of absence because of health issues. Jobs, who announced last week that he suffered from a hormone imbalance that caused him to lose weight, said he will be away from the job until the end of June 2009.

"In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June," Jobs said in an official company statement.

Jobs said curiosity over his personal health was a distraction at Apple, and that his health-related issues have become more complex during the past week.

Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, will be responsible for the company's day to day operations, according to Job's statement.

Source: Apple Computer Inc.

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