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iPhone/AT&T monopoly lawsuit gains class-action status

updated 06:45 pm EDT, Fri July 9, 2010

Plaintiffs focus on exclusivity agreement

A lawsuit targeting AT&T and Apple over the iPhone exclusivity agreement has been granted class-action status by Judge James Ware of the US District Court in the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs now represent all individuals who have purchased an iPhone tied to an AT&T contract in the US.

Attorneys accuse both companies of effectively creating a monopoly through exclusive distribution of the iPhone from one carrier for an indefinite time period, despite telling customers they are free to switch to another carrier at any time. Although customers sign up for a two-year contract, they are forced to stay with AT&T for much longer if they want to continue to use their iPhone, the attorneys argue.

Apple's legal team claimed that there was "widespread disclosure" of a five-year exclusivity agreement and "no suggestion" that the devices would become unlocked after two years. The lawyers point to a newspaper article as the disclosure, however Apple and AT&T have yet to officially confirm any details of their exclusivity agreement.

The class-action filing will be open for any customers who purchased an iPhone with an AT&T contract between June 29, 2007 and July 26, 2010. [via Wired]




by MacNN Staff

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  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -7

    I hope they win...

    The Plaintiffs I mean. And I would think would want them to win too. They don't want to stick with ATT any longer.

  1. Bearcat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Ok...

    So say the plaintiffs do win. What would that do? Nothing really. At most, it would force AT&T and Apple to unlock the iPhone after the 2 year contract if the customer wants to go to T-Mobile. But then the phone won't get the faster 3G speeds because it isn't built with the right radio antennae for it to work with them. So then you have a 2 year old device that you can use on T-Mobile but only at EDGE speeds. Whoopdie doo! The lawsuit can't force Apple to make the iPhone compatible with T-Mobile 3G if they don't want to. Same goes for Verizon. Its just silly to think that people can sue a company to force them to manufacture something they want, but the company doesn't want to make.

  1. facebook_Thomas

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2010

    +8

    This is pointless

    Although it sounds great but in reality its pointless. The hardware is only compatible with one other carrier, T-Mobile and only for EDGE not even 3G. and ALL carriers have exclusivity on their phones. This is the way America is setup. Apple choses to only make a GSM version. A lawsuit cannot force a company to make hardware that they don't want to.

    The only benefit would be to remove the SIM lock for use outside the US

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Reeetarded

    This plaintiff is so reeetarded they don't know about Psystar case against Apple. Translation: exclusive is NOT illegal.

  1. dashiel

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    sigh

    look this is really simple - when apple announced the iphone they also announced they had signed a 5 year exclusive deal with cingular, now at&t. *nothing* had changed, all this talk about verizon phones is the stock manipulation tactics of greedy analysts and pageview bait of idiot bloggers. the deal wasn't secret, you can go re-watch the introduction now and see it in giant, white, helvetica neue type on a black screen.

  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +9

    It would be nice ...

    ... if the ultimate outcome of this suit was that ALL cell phones with EVERY carrier were unlocked after the contract period.

    Other than that, I think the plaintiffs are being a bit silly and don't really have a solid legal leg to stand on.

    And for everyone who thinks the iPhone moving to T-Mobile or Verizon will make it perfect ... there's an old saying about the grass and the fence you may want to re-familiarize yourself with.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Wrong focus. Focus on FCC

    It is the fault of the FCC for allowing AT&T to have exclusive use of the UMTS frequencies and not encouraging Verizon and Sprint to compete directly with AT&T with an HSPA+ network. LTE is a lie. It is a long way away still.

    Canada is geographically bigger than the US and yet now four carriers to choose from with differing pricing models to choose from for getting an iPhone. This happened because the two major CDMA carriers decided to upgrade to HSPA+ instead of waiting for LTE to arrive some time in the future.

    Why many will try to argue that these carriers are not as large as Verizon, they are probably as large as Sprint and certainly have a much larger coverage area.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    sigh back @dashiel

    Look, this is really not that simple.

    I don't know where you get your information from, but there was no "5 year exclusive deal with cingular" announced by Apple at any time, to the best of my knowledge. When they introduced the iPhone in 2007, Stan Sigman (Cingular CEO) joined Stee on stage and said that "Apple and Cingular have a multi-year exclusive partnership". That's all.

    If I'm wrong, tell me how your statement can be backed up by facts.

    PS: And I don't know what into video you have been watching. but the one I've seen didn't have anything written in "giant, white, helvetica neue type on a black screen". That's not just because Apple uses giant, white, Myriad type on a dark blue gradient screen. :-)

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +7

    Next up...

    ...we're going to file class-action lawsuits against Martha Stewart and Wal-Mart because she wouldn't let Target carry her line of "Martha Stewart Living" products as well, and you all know damn well that Target has better store locations (more coverage) and wider aisles (fewer dropped calls).

    DAMN THESE EXCLUSIVITY DEALS!

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    LTE....

    Everyone will have to have their LTE networks up & running before iPhone goes to other carriers.

    - A

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