Two owners of the iPhone are suing Apple as they want their handsets unlocked. Thomas Buchar and Zach Ward filed a class action lawsuit in California saying that Apple has gone against antitrust laws when they locked buyers into voice and data contracts when purchasing handsets with AT&T. The pair are saying that Apple didn’t get consumers contractual consent in regards to their iPhone being locked when Apple went into an agreement with AT&T in 2007.
AT&T iPhone users file lawsuit against Apple
As part of this agreement Apple put in locks on software which made sure that those buying the iPhone could not take their iPhone to another carrier competing against AT&T. They say that this goes against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This act comes with exceptions which allow those buying the device to be able to modify it so that they can use it with the carrier they choose.
This means that Apple has stifled competition and this is unlawful. They have also reduced output and consumers are not left with a choice, along with artificially increasing prices in the aftermarket for voice and data services for the iPhone 5 reports CNET.
The pair is seeking monetary damages along with seeking a restraining order which would stop Apple locking their iPhone, as this stops consumers from having their SIM cards unlocked. The pair also wants Apple to provide owners of iPhones with SIM unlock codes, if owners of devices ask for them. The order also includes Apple not being able to sell devices without first disclosing the fact that they are locked and they will have to get the consumers consent.
There has been a lot of frustration on the part of consumers over device software being locked, and this is not something that is new. However in the past lawsuits against carriers over the issue have not been successful and this is thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court in 2011 which said that consumers could not file lawsuits against carriers. In the case of AT&T vs. Conception a court said that there was a clause in the contract offered to customers which limited consumers to arbitrations, as opposed to class action, which met the standards of fairness.
The lawsuit taken out by the pair however is different in that they are going after the maker of the handset and not the carrier. At the moment it is unclear as to whether Apple will have a clause that is similar in their customer contract.