August 27, 2008, 4:47 AM — No one would argue that Apple has an unbreakable stranglehold on the computer market (the question of whether it dominates the mobile media market is still open). But you don't need to be a monopoly to potentially run afoul of the antitrust law established in the days of President Benjamin Harrison. Psystar, a manufacturer of unauthorized Mac clones that's currently being sued by Apple, is countersuing, claiming that Apple's OS X EULA violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Psystar's business model -- which involves installing OS X on specially tweaked x86 hardware and then reselling the machines -- is in pretty clear violation of that EULA, so pretty much their only options were to roll over and die or challenge the legality of the agreement entirely.
Many technophiles, no matter how they feel about Apple, would love to see companies' ability to restrict user actions via EULAs invalidated. It would be nice if this case were determined on its legal merits, but it's hard to see how a tiny company will be able to spend the vast amounts on legal feels that such a landmark case would entail when going up against an enormous multinational corporation like Apple.
Perhaps scared off by the legal struggles, another Mac clone maker, Open Tech, has put itself up for sale. Open Tech had a seemingly more lawsuit-proof approach -- rather than offering generic PC hardware with OS X installed, it merely planned to offer an OS-less machine and include instructions on installing a separately purchased copy of OS X. Nevertheless, the company never actually sold anything, and is offering to sell itself for $50,000 via PayPal, which leads one to question how serious any of its plans ever were.