Man sues Apple over the iPhone's AT&T lock

Here's one iPhone lawsuit you can stand behind.


Farhad Manjoo
October 8, 2007 9:31PM (UTC)

Apple has lately been on the receiving end of a number of ridiculous iPhone lawsuits -- litigious whiners are upset at the device's battery life and that Apple cut the iPhone's price -- but now comes a legal claim with some moral weight to it. A California resident is suing Apple for locking the iPhone to AT&T -- a lock that Apple has been prepared to maintain at the cost of breaking people's phones.

Timothy Smith and his attorney say that by preventing customers from choosing a cell carrier other than AT&T, Apple is violating California's antitrust statutes. Smith argues that because unlocking your cellphone is completely legal, Apple's technical and contract restrictions have "artificially inflated" the iPhone's price.

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Smith's attorney is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit. The suit asks to bar Apple from selling locked iPhones and to force the company to reinstate the warranties of people who have unlocked their phones from AT&T.

We'll see if Smith's suit goes anywhere, but you'd be wise not to hold your breath on this one. This is a huge deal, bigger than Apple and the iPhone alone. If he prevails, Smith's claim would ripple through the cell industry, which generates gobs of green from the kind of anticompetitive locks that Apple and AT&T maintain with the iPhone. Wish for the best, but don't expect it.

Apple Class-Action Suit Filed By California Man Over iPhone Bricking [Information Week]


Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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