In an unexpected twist in the drawn-out battle between Psystar and Apple, the two companies agreed Monday to a partial settlement that could end the case after 17 months of back-and-forth between them, Computerworld is reporting. Details on the settlement are sparse, but what is known is quite surprising.
The terms of the settlement would see Psystar pay Apple damages, though the amount has not yet been determined. It would also see Apple drop any and all trademark, trade-dress and state law claims, which would effectively eliminate the need for a trial. As a partial settlement, the agreement would not go into effect until Psystar has exhausted all of its appeals before the court.
It’s an interesting deal, because it looks like it wouldn’t necessarily stop Psystar from selling its Mac clones. Instead, the company would be limited to selling its “Open” line of computers without OS X preinstalled, and that responsibility would lie instead with customers. Apparently that’s a compromise Apple is willing to live with, and with good reason, since the Mac maker would have to go after many other clone makers if it wasn’t.
Here are the terms of the deal, as stated in a motion filed Monday by Psystar:
Psystar and Apple today entered into a partial settlement that is embodied in a stipulation that will be filed with the court tomorrow. Psystar has agreed on certain amounts to be awarded as statutory damages on Apple’s copyright claims in exchange for Apple’s agreement not to execute on these awards until all appeals in this matter have been concluded. Moreover, Apple has agreed to voluntarily dismiss all its trademark, trade-dress, and state-law claims. This partial settlement eliminates the need for a trial and reduces the issues before this court to the scope of any permanent injunction on Apple’s copyright claims.
That means that Apple’s permanent injunction, which it filed last week, would still be decided by the court. Psystar moved to have its software, the Rebel EFI program, to be excepted from the injunction. Rebel EFI allows users to install any OS on any hardware, but Psystar maintains that since it is entirely its own product, and is not sold together with any hardware or Mac OS X, it should be exempt from Apple’s motion. Also, Psystar goes onto note that even its customers, should they choose to use Rebel EFI to install OS X on non-authorized hardware, should also be exempt from any legal repercussions:
Psystar’s end users do not engage in commercial use of Mac OS X and their use would qualify as use for “internal purposes” even under the standards articulated by Apple in its summary-judgment briefing.
Hard to vilify this new moderate stance taken by the clone maker, which is probably why Apple seems to have agreed to the terms. Whether or not Rebel EFI will continue to be sold, however, is now up to the courts.