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

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 …

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Anti-competitive?

Are iPhones the only phones out there? Don't want to get stuck with a certain operator then buy something else.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

And to think people like you have the right to vote.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

That's right and I just did. Thumbs down for you chief.

You don't share the feeling that stupid fanboys got what they deserved by dancing with the devil?

I'm always happy to see Apple on the end of litigation but I can't help thinking people knew the score beforehand on this one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anti-competitive?

"Re: Anti-competitive?

And to think people like you have the right to vote."

If "people" like you didn't have any rights, perhaps the world wouldn't be the shite hole it is!

What a p ick!

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Re: Anti-competitive?

"What a p ick!"

Because prick is such a naughty word.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

People who can spell "prick" may be allowed to vote

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Re: Anti-competitive?

"Anti-competitive?

Are iPhones the only phones out there?"

*slaps forehead*

Anti competitive because they are limiting your ability to change phone companies. That should have been obvious, even to a fanboi...

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Re: Anti-competitive?

"I can't help thinking people knew the score beforehand on this one"

Think a little harder - phone network locks can be disabled after your contract ends. In Oz its actually illegal to not allow handset unlocking after the contract term has expired.

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Silver badge

Re: Anti-competitive?

The first iPhone was pure GSM, so locking it to just AT&T was pretty anticompetitive. Other US networks did GSM back then. So there was no technical reason for the lock-in.

However the iPhone soon acquired a 3G radio that was UMTS based. In the US only AT&T had a UMTS network, so any kind of exclusive commercial arrangement was trumped by that technological exclusivity. Apple couldn't be blamed for that.

So the class action only works for those who bought the very first model of iPhone which was a long time ago now. Why has it taken so long (4, 5 years) to start the case?

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FAIL

Re: "begs the question of why the plaintiffs didn't just use such a method"

The method referred to was technically involved and required a lot of reading for one thing.

More importantly, it involved voiding the warranty and worse, the chance to brick the phone if something went wrong.

Biggest surprise is, that people are suing only now! I hope they win, cause corporations have been way out of hand ever since Microscum basically managed to evade the rules, and come out with only very minor repercussions.

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Anonymous Coward

There can only be one monopoly, so please unlock out iPhones so that we can take advantage of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, there's only one Mergers and Monopolies commission in the UK. Who should I refer that to?

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Anonymous Coward

I think such US citizens don't understand the concept of a subsidised phone. You don't own the phone until your mandatory contract period has completed.

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Headmaster

Read the article

"both bought iPhones around 2009 and found that at the end of their AT&T contracts they couldn't switch networks"

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Re: Read the article

So the problem is with AT&T refusing to unlock them, not that they can't be unlocked. O2 in the UK will unlock your phone for free providing that your account is in good standing and you've had the phone for more than a few months.

Many if not all phone manufacturers provide locked phones to cell companies. You can't blame the manufacturer for providing what the customer (the cell co, given they are the people that buy the devices up front) ask for.

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Re: Read the article

Not entirely correct, in the UK there's no legally-defined right to unlock your phone at the end of a contract but it varies by both manufacturer and network. Some manufacturers will provide network unlock codes directly to the end user on provision of proof that their contract is complete, others just decide it's easier not to bother and say "talk to your network" - and those networks realise that while providing unlock codes is good service (which should help retain customers) it also means customers can switch network cheaply by not having to get another subsidised phone, and thus refuse to do it.

TL,DR: If you're going to refuse to unlock phones at the end of the contract, bloody well say so in advance. The fact that you can dick around with third party unlocks doesn't excuse this being imposed with no advance notice.

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Boffin

Apple Specific Problem

This may be an Apple specific legal situation, since the unlock comes VIA Apple/iTunes, not directly from the network operator (or at least it did).

When O2 unlocked my old phone it was necessary to plug the phone into the computer and connect up to iTunes. Only once the phone had "phoned home" to Apple did it receive the unlock code. (i.e. at the time O2 could not unlock the phone without going through Apple).

It may be different now the iPhone/iOS supports Over The Air for updates.

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Re: Apple Specific Problem

No, Nokia handsets have operated in a similar way for a good few years too.

The manufacturer does the unlocking on the request of the network that the phone was locked to in the first place.

For Apple, the network tells them to unlock the phone & it's done next time to plug into a computer (may now be OTA).

For Nokia, the network tells them to unlock the phone & they send the unlock code to the network who then send it out as a SIM update message.

The only real difference is because of the way the locking is implemented, Nokia's method has been "cracked" and can be done via unauthorised third parties on the high street and Apple's needs you to first jailbreak the phone.

Both methods can lead to the phone being re-locked if you update the firmware.

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Megaphone

I always

...hated phones that were locked. The contract you take out with an operator ties you in already so why not let you use the phone how you want? If other manufacturers did this there would be hell to pay - imagine buying a Ford but only being able to fill up at say Esso stations? Sounds daft but then again so is locking bloody phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I always

Except the correct analogy would be if Esso bought the car at full price from Ford and then offered the car to consumers at 25% cost, but with a requirement (and special nozzle fitting) that consumers buy over-priced gas from Esso until Esso has made more profit than the full price of the car. Oh, and at the end of the contract neither Esso nor Ford will convert your car to work with the standard nozzles used by any other station.

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Re: I always

@AC 14:31

More like having to pay Esso every month for 2 years, regardless of whether you actually use any petrol ;-)

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Re: I always

And if you drive to another country and need to fill up over there, you'll be charged an exorbitant amount per mL of fuel.

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Linux

Could you actually buy an unlocked iPhone?

I don't think you had the option to buy an unlocked iPhone... I believe it was an AT&T-locked phone or nothing, so I think they have a pretty good chance at winning.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Could you actually buy an unlocked iPhone?

Stil, they bought the phone from AT&T not Apple. They have no direct customer relationship with Apple in that sense. Plus given the amount of lawyers Apple have, I think they've got sod all chance of winning but a small chance of getting Apple to settle out of court for a nominal compensation that won't even cover their lawyer's bills.

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Bronze badge

Re: Could you actually buy an unlocked iPhone?

Agreed, but it's frickin sad that cases are so likely to be won or lost depending on how many lawyers one can afford. There's an episode of the West Wing about regarding sueing tobacco companies, and they mention - but weirdly never bother to even question - the idea that spending more money on lawyers equals win.

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Mushroom

Re: Could you actually buy an unlocked iPhone?

More to the point, this is a class-action lawsuit. Lawyers can make money out of this, but the people technically bringing the lawsuit can earn at most a dozen bucks out of it.

First, there were those lottery-type lawsuits where one guy could earn millions, not because that was the extent of his damages, but because that was how much the company had to be made to pay in order to stop screwing with consumers. E.g. Ford wouldn't even notice offering a new car to every guy who bothered to complain, they would only fix the problems with their cars under threat of multi-million lawsuits.

Then the class-action lawsuits were invented, so that individual consumers would hardly have an incentive of suing big corporations for a return of just $50 each. But the lawyers still had incentives, because they still earned millions out of such lawsuits.

So now, companies remove the right to class-action lawsuits from their customers in T&Cs. They can now act however they want, and it is not the worth the trouble for any single individual to sue them.

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rvt
Devil

'MURIKA!!!

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Silver badge
WTF?

What do you call ...

a disillusioned 'fanbois' who are so excised they actually sue the Church of Apple?

Disbelievers?

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Bronze badge

Re: What do you call ...

WRONG!!!!!!

They are more properly called heretics.

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Gimp

Shouldn't they be suing AT&T? They are the one imposing the lock after all, Apple are perfectly willing to sell unlocked iphones.

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Silver badge

Yeah this case will go nowhere. Apple sold phones to AT&T, which AT&T then sold to consumers. This was when the only way you could get an iPhone was by buying a subsidized one on contract. These clowns have no recourse to go after Apple at all.

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Anonymous Coward

".......and an undertaking that Apple will never act in such an underhand way again."

Good luck with that one!

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FAIL

Who cares?

Why would anyone want a phone with last decade's features?

Get with the times! Nice antiquated iphone you have sir!

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zb

Unlock the phone

It costs about £5 and takes 5 minutes in any number of small phone repair and computer shops around where I live. There is even one bar where the owner does it while you have a beer.

I can see that it might be entertaining to join in a multi-billion dollar class action but there is an easy solution to the perceived problem.

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What about videogames?

It's very anti-competative that Halo is only released on the xbox. I demand they release it on PS3 and WII or I'll take them to court.

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A post contract brick

Seems it was A T & T or nothing in the US when your contract ran out.

Locking works different country by country but A T & T would not unlock end of contract phones so they just became an iPod if you did not stay with them.

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h3
Bronze badge

Problem with £5 unlocks is they invariably don't do the job properly. Patch unlocks and replacing the radio and hacks like that are really bad. (Those shops are an eyesore around cities these days and when it comes to anything remotely complicated they cannot even do it in my experience).

Better with an iphone specific unlock sim if you cannot get it done properly.

The CDMA situation is allot better you can do anything that you would ever need to with QPST.

Especially with a company like Apple (Or Sony) who might decide to brick the phone next time you connect it to itunes.

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Stop

What of course is hillarious

IS clearly they have yet to discover the OTHER, far more serious lock-in.,...

If they are upset over the AT&T one, wait till they work out the big one...

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Bronze badge
Headmaster

RAISES the question

Begging the question is a logical fallacy where one assumes the matter be argues is true to argue that it is in fact true.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html

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