UK consumers are being offered built-to-order Mac OS X clones that come with OS X 10.5 pre-installed, even though Apple has taken legal action against companies offering similar machines in the past.

Starting at €500 (£438), the 'PearC' from German company HyperMegaNet UG, is highly customisable and purchasers can even upgrade the machines with a super fast Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition for an extra €719.99 (£631).

The deal seems legally dubious although HyperMegaNet UG claims to have discovered a loophole in German law to allow the sale of clones without elaborating.

A FAQ, in German, claims all is legal and above board.

"Q. Is it legal that to install Mac OS X on a PC? A. We would not offer our PearCs, if we were of the opinion that it is legal".

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One German enthusiast suggests Apple's Software License Agreement would not be valid under German law due to anti-monopoly legislation, and the same would apply to any European country that shares similar laws.

However, Apple may still take action against the company. In July, it started legal action against US company Psystar , which was offering similar mac clones for sale.

Psystar has long claimed that consumers have had to pay more for a computer running Mac OS X than they would have if Apple had not tied the operating system to its own hardware.

"Apple is free to control and charge customers supra-competitive prices," said Psystar.

A third Mac clone maker, Open Tech, began offering Intel-based computers last summer although without the Mac OSX pre-installed.

See also: Psystar Mac clone Apple 'publicity stunt'