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Apple cops $AU2.5m fine for misleading consumers

There’s eight minutes that Cupertino will never get back

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The "Apple 4G deception" imbroglio in Australia has concluded with the company slapped with a $AU2.5 million dollar fine for advertising capabilities it couldn’t deliver down under.

Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, brought the Federal Court action against Cupertino for its “iPad with WiFi + 4G” advertising, because the iPad launched in March was incapable of connecting to any of Australia’s 4G (LTE) networks. Apple argued that Australia's HSPA+ netwroks were good enough to be called 4G.

The Federal Court has agreed with the ACCC, and stripped Apple of an entire eight minutes’ worth of its global revenue as punishment (based on its most recent quarterly revenue of $US39.2 billion). Apple had previously agreed to change the branding material and offer refunds to buyers.

In delivering the decision yesterday, the court noted that Apple had put its desire for a consistent global brand ahead of local laws. Federal Court Justice Bromberg said "global uniformity was given a greater priority" than complying with the law, and as a result, “the most concerning aspect of Apple’s contravention … is the deliberate nature of its conduct”.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has defended the size of the fine, telling the ABC that the regulator is pleased that courts are willing to impose multi-million dollar fines on companies that mislead advertisers. The regulator also notes that provisions for fines have only existed for 18 months.

Apple has declined all media requests for comment, presumably because it’s busy scouting around the back of the lounge for spare change to pay the fine. ®

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