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Macintosh clone vendor Psystar has filed for bankruptcy protection in Florida, effectively stalling its legal battle with Apple while the company tries to resuscitate its coffers.

The clonemaker petitioned for Chapter 11 protection on Thursday in US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Court documents indicate Psystar owes at least $259,356 in debt to a number of unsecured, non-priority individuals and companies.

The Doral, Florida firm blames the weakened economy for its financial woes, claiming the financial climate has caused its creditors to "tighten up their terms" and become "more demanding for immediate payment."

Psystar also claims the economy has hobbled the inventories of lower-cost hardware vendors and forced it to pay higher prices for PC kit to fulfill orders in a timely manner.

Furthermore, the company asserts that if it's granted protection from creditors under Chapter 11, Psystar possesses unnamed "valuable intellectual property" that will enable it to emerge from bankruptcy with a "strong and effective plan to make an increasingly higher profit."

There appears to be no mention of Psystar's headlining legal fight with Apple contributing to its financial problems. But under US bankruptcy protection laws, all cases against the company would be put on hold until restructuring is sorted out.

Folks closely following Apple's case against Psystar are now drooling over the prospect of Psystar's funders being publicly exposed in upcoming bankruptcy court proceedings.

Apple's legal briefs against Psystar have asserted the clonemaker may be in secret cahoots with "John Doe" third-party supporters. The claim could be referring to something as simple as third-party coders working to break Apple's copy protection — but many prefer to go the conspiracy route with their conjecture.

Because Psystar seemingly appeared out of nowhere in early 2008, some have hypothesized the company is being bankrolled by Apple's rivals (namely, Microsoft) to undermine its intellectual property rights.

The Florida court will hold Psystar's first bankruptcy hearing on June 5. Keep an ear out for the telltale thunder of Redmond's black helicopters swooping into the Sunshine state. ®

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