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Apple, Psystar Pushed Into Mediation Talks

Kane Adams

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Since the court ordered it, neither side can be too thrilled, but there must be an attempt to settle the dispute before it goes to court.


Apple and Psystar, the tiny Florida operation that has been selling Mac OS X loaded on generic x86 clone PCs, have been pushed into mediated settlement talks.


The evidence was unearthed by The Mac Observer site. In a filing with the Northern District of California on October 1, both parties have agreed to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is defined in Wikipedia as processes and techniques for dispute resolution that fall outside of the government judicial process.


However, this was not because Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) blinked in its legal fight. CEO Steve Jobs is not known for backing down for much of anything, least of all protecting his turf. The two sides were pushed into mediation by the court because such attempts are standard practice, according to Colby Springer, the attorney representing Psystar with the firm of Carr & Ferrell, based in Palo Alto, Calif.


"It's a standard requirement, we have to do it," Springer told InternetNews.com. "What the parties think doesn't matter, it's up to the judge." He can order both parties to talk until he or she feels things are not progressing. A mediator informs the judge of progress, or any lack thereof.






"If the judge thinks one party is being stubborn, he can keep them there, but if there is no honest chance for resolution, he says 'ok let's move forward'," said Springer.


Both sides do have something to lose. If Psystar wins its anti-trust claims against Apple, that opens the door to Mac OS X being sold on significantly lower-cost x86 machines than Apple charges for its computers.


Psystar, on the other hand, may have the respected legal firm of Carr & Ferrell but it's a tiny operation in Florida and Apple has $20 billion in the bank.


Both parties have agreed to begin holding sessions by January 31, 2009. ADR is a good way to work things out privately and the outcome is not disclosed, unlike a legal settlement. Of course, if Psystar has to stop selling Mac clones, that will be apparent to everyone.


Psystar, of Doral, Florida, was just another PC white box builder before it garnered attention across the Internet for advertising Open Computer/OpenPro systems with either Linux or Mac OS X Leopard. Ever since Apple made the switch from PowerPC chips to Intel processors in 2006, enterprising hackers have been experimenting with ways to run Mac OS X on generic PC hardware.


There are plenty of hacks to be found on the Web, but no one had the temerity to stick a thumb in Apple's eye by selling clones with OS X loaded. Psystar buys OSX from a third party, then pre-loads it on systems for order. Springer maintained the same position the firm stated back in August when it took the case: it feels Apple's End User License Agreement (EULA) is invalid and is looking for a declaratory judgment from the court in that regard.


As to whether Psystar wants damages, or just the right to sell Mac clones, Springer said "We reserved the right to pursue damages, we'll see how that goes."



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