Psystar to depose Apple engineers, accused of destroying evidence

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It’s been a while since we’ve had an update on the spectacle that the Apple v. Psystar case has become. When last we saw the Florida-based clone-maker, it was changing lawyers, after it had trouble paying off its first firm.

So consider this a twofer. Not only is Psystar opening its deposition of Apple personnel with some, er, unorthodox tactics, but Apple’s accused the company of some shady moves in regards to evidence.

Apple had its chance to depose Psystar employees last week, so the Florida-based company now gets its turn. In a blog post on its site, Psystar has listed the nine Apple employees that it's interviewing, including senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering Bob Mansfield.

Here’s where the eyebrow-raising methodology comes in, as Psystar’s anonymous blog poster has solicited questions from the community for use in the deposition:

…we’re taking the top ten most highly moderated questions for each person to be asked at their depositions. Please bear in mind that these must relate to the litigation at hand and if you feel this correlation is unclear, please elaborate to help us better understand your perspective and/or argument.

Crowdsourcing your legal aid, huh? Um, interesting move. Psystar acknowledges that the answers may not be available to the public, due to a protective order from Apple surrounding the case.

As if that wasn’t enough, legal/technology blog Groklaw reports that Apple has filed a brief with the court claiming that Psystar has destroyed evidence, specifically the infringing code that it used to circumvent Apple’s copyright protections.

Spoliation—the technical term for the destruction of evidence—is, of course, a big deal, especially in this case, as it relates to the central thrust of Apple’s argument: namely, that Psystar infringed upon Apple’s copyright to distribute the clones. This issue has prompted a hearing, set for August 20 in San Francisco, in which the judge will listen to “unresolved issue(s).”

Regardless of what you think of the legality of Psystar’s business operations—which is what this trial will eventually decide—the company’s behavior in this case has been strange, to say the least, and doesn’t exactly lend it a lot of credence.

The trial between the two companies is currently still set to begin on January 11, 2010.

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