Feeds

iPhone owners sue Apple for locking Jesus mobe to AT&T

Operator bypassed in new class action

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

A new attack from disgruntled iPhone users is putting Apple in the dock for locking iPhones to AT&T's network, claiming that such a lock is illegally anti-competitive.

The suit, filed in Northern California and picked up by CNet, argues that Apple's 2007 deal to lock iPhones to AT&T was in breach of the Sherman Act – a US antitrust law regulating anticompetitive conduct – and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which permits the unlocking of phone handsets, so the plaintiffs are seeking financial restitution and an undertaking that Apple will never act in such an underhand way again.

It's not the first time that the legality of handset locks has been challenged in America, but previous suits have always targeted the network operators and have failed, in part because the customers signed contracts with AT&T which denied them the chance to join forces in a class action, making it difficult for an individual to pursue the case. But customers had no such contract with Apple, and are thus able to launch this suit.

Customers who bought the first iPhone, the suit explains, entered into a contract with AT&T but were not told that they would be unable to use the handset with another operator, even after the end of the AT&T contract period or while travelling abroad, and that is in breach of their rights: "Apple has prevented iPhone customers from exercising that legal right by locking the iPhones and refusing to give customers the software codes needed to unlock them," the lawsuit reads.

Back in 2007 Apple had to offer mobile networks exclusive access to the iPhone as it was the only bargaining chip Cupertino had. The tactic proved hugely successful, playing operators off against each other to obtain outrageous deals (for Apple) in exchange for exclusivity, but it also put Apple in the hands of the operator, which is why Cupertino no longer plays the game that way.

AT&T's deal was, reportedly, for five years, but the suit notes that it actually ended in February 2011 when Verizon started selling iDevices.

The filing does note that customers managed to work around the lock as early as August 2007, and given such workarounds had been declared legal in a clarification of the DMCA, it begs the question of why the plaintiffs didn't just use such a method, but that's not the point.

Two individuals, Zack Ward and Thomas Buchar, both bought iPhones around 2009 and found that at the end of their AT&T contracts they couldn't switch networks, which is enough for a class action suit, even one which feels more like a punt in the dark than a serious accusation of wrongdoing. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.