Another Week, Another iPhone Law Suit
This new class action law suit, filed by Timothy Smith in California, is quite similar to the one filed last week: customers want service and support covered under the warranty on unlocked phones plus monetary damages.
“Smith's lawsuit also claims that an exemption to the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 granted last year allows for phone unlocking and so should invalidate Apple's move last month to disable phones modified to work with non-AT&T networks. Moreover, said the suit, Apple violated consumers' rights by "bricking" unlocked iPhones with the 1.1.1 update it issued a week and a half ago.
"Apple acted in defiance and without sufficient consideration of consumers' rights to unlock their iPhones because it knew that the probable result of its update would be to render unlocked iPhones inoperable," the lawsuit charges.”
Those are some pretty serious charges.
This brings us to a really interesting legal question, and one that might reshape the future of the mobile phone industry: can carriers and phone vendors no-longer offer exclusive deals, or do customers simply have to accept what they're given. After all, neither Apple nor AT&T made any claims that the iPhone was unlockable or that it was possible/easy/safe to move it to another provider.
What do you think is fair? Should customers vote with their wallets and not buy a product if they won't want a service that it is essentially wedded to? Should Apple be forced to open their iPhone, and if they do could/should AT&T be able to sue for breach of contract, having lost their exclusivity?