Shame on You, Apple – Leave Psystar Alone

*NOTE: I made a couple slight corrections to highlight the points in this article. I am not siding with Apple nor Psystar. I am siding with the consumer for wanting an Apple machine at a decent price.

Apple finally went for the Psystar Jugular as they not only filed a major lawsuit, but also want “All Open Computers Sold” recalled. Therefore if you bought a Psystar with the OSX 10.5 software on it, you would have to return it to Psystar. Good luck in getting a refund or a replacement machine.

Apple is also going for Triple the amount of damages and a permanent injunction of sales. This move could easily wipe out the small Florida based company.

I cannot believe that Apple is this selfish in the game. I cannot believe that Apple is willing to put another company under for giving consumers an alternative and maybe getting them interested in Apple computers.

It seems more and more relevant that Apple is a money grubbing company. How do you expect to get more than 20% marketshare if you deny the consumer market every time? How do you expect to beat the PC if you are not willing to make it affordable?

CNet has already noted that Apple charges almost three times as much for accessories (like Memory) for their machines then a company like Dell. Yes, you can buy a Mac Mini for $600, but what do you really get? For $600 I can get a usable Windows PC or even a good laptop. The Mac Mini has no real upgrade options (video for example), and if you want to upgrade items like memory, well get out that pocketbook. The Mac Mini doesn’t even come with a mouse or keyboard (it’s only a $5-10 addition in production cost).

The only customizable machine is the Mac Pro for $2800. For $2800, I can equip 8 people with decent PC’s. I can equip 2-4 people with high-end machines.

Maybe Psystar shouldn’t be the ones who need to be sued. Don’t get me wrong here – Psystar was wrong for selling the OS and should be penalized.But did their actions really harm Apple enough for them to go for triple the damage? NO. Not even to set an “Example”.

Say what you want about Intel and Microsoft. At least you know where those snakes are. Apple is posing as the “Friendly Snake” that is just gonna bite you in the…. well… derriere. It’s understandable they want to protect their stuff. But is this really necessary? Even if it might mean a five to ten percent Marketshare increase?

Shame on you Apple. SHAME ON YOU.

Is the end of ‘business methods’ patents too much to hope for?

It probably is, however there is conjecture that a case up before the federal court of appeals might change the patentability of business methods. Reffered to as Bilski (after the last name of the original filer), the patent was files in 1997 and was one of the first to claim a patent on a business method, and the ruling that upheld it against challenge is considered the validation of business process patents as a concept.

While the case has been heard in appeal before the new look at the facts is expected to overturn the patent. The reality is that it is possible to overturn the patent without changing the nature of methods patents, but given that this case was one of the original citations for precedent it would give a hit to the practice. Unfortunately now, there are so many other cases that could be cited as precedent it could be way too late to shut that gate without lawmakers getting involved.

The idea that a business method represents true innovation that deserves patent protection is not intellectually defenseable, but the nature of the corporate beast is to take whatever advantage they can get. If this is not the end of this sorry saga hopefully it is a nail in its coffin.

Ink Cartridge Manufacturers Get Legal Go Ahead

The U.S. Copyright Office ruled this week that a manufacturer of low-cost, third-party printer ink cartridges can continue to make and sell cartridges for Lexmark printers. This ruling will have broad impact on the printer consumable market as alternative brands of ink cartridges may now move from the black market to retail store shelves.

Lexmark International sued Static Control Components (SCC) for copyright infringement of computer code contained in Lexmark’s printer ink cartridges, charging SCC with violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban on circumventing digital technology that protects copyrighted material. SCC had reverse engineered Lexmark’s software and created it’s own brand of ink cartridges for Lexmark’s printers.

Dave’s Opinion
The Copyright Office took an tack, rather than considering whether SCC had violated Lexmark’s intellectual property protection, the office ruled that the DMCA does not restrict SCC’s actions. This means that software developers may not be free to reverse engineer code if the intention is to create interoperability with another’s computer application.

With this ruling in hand, I expect that there will be a flood of third-party ink cartridges for both Lexmark and Epson printers, the two manufacturers who are most frequently faulted for imbedding chips in their ink cartridges and forcing users to buy the more expensive primary brand consumables.

Call for Comments
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References
U.S. Copyright Office Ruling (the interesting details start on page 172)
Lexmark International
Static Control Components
Epson

California Wins Legal Case Against Spammers

Two LA spammers were ordered to pay $2 million and received various business restrictions in Santa Clara County Superior Court, this past Friday. This is the largest judgment won by government prosecutors against senders of unsolicited e-mail. The spammers are also the object of a Federal Trade Commission suit; however, both legal cases are civil suits, so there’s not much chance that the spammers will see the inside of a jail cell anytime soon.

Since 1999, almost three-quarters of states have passed anti-spam laws, but prosecutors have brought only a handful of lawsuits; success in the legal system often requires integrating case law (past judgments), and until more criminal suits are won this catch-22 will continue. Rather than pursue criminal penalties, ISPs and frustrated individuals have been using the courts by filing suit using various laws such as consumer fraud and trespass.

Dave’s Opinion
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved an anti-spam bill this past Wednesday: the first federal legislation to tackle spam. The Sentate bill requires bulk e-mailers to indicate a valid return address, disclose that the content is advertising, and give consumers valid and working opt-out mechanisms. In addition, the bill bans the use of addresses obtained from automated mechanisms, such as web-crawling and e-mail harvesting.

Senate bill S.877, CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, also directs the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to come up with a plan for a do-not-spam registry, similar to the do-not-call telemarketing registry.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering competing anti-spam legislation, and may have a more difficult time reaching agreement; however, I’m holding out hope for a valid and reliable do-not-spam registry by 2005.

Call for Comments
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References
S.877 CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

Microsoft Sued Over Security Flaws

Marcy Levitas Hamilton, a media corporation CEO, has filed suit and is seeking to class action status for her complaint against Microsoft. Hamilton says that the software giant is responsible for a cracker’s being able to steal her Social Security number’s using a flaw in Microsoft’s software.

This is a new type of complaint: holding Microsoft legally responsible for the security of its applications and operating systems because the software maker’s disclaimers against responsibility for security flaws are an unfair business practice under the laws of California since consumers have few options other than using Microsoft products.

Dave’s Opinion
This is an interesting legal argument: should software makers be held to a standard of liability similar to the standards of other major industries.

Microsoft says that Hamilton’s law suit is misdirected because the theft is the work of vandals. But I think Microsoft is missing the point — it manages the only building in town and left the door open. Shouldn’t Microsoft, as the only landlord in town, be responsible to lock the door against the vandals?

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.