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Two iPhone owners sue Apple for locking iPhone to AT&T Mobility network

Apple is the one harassing its competitors with patent lawsuits but just recently, two of its customers (Zach Ward and Thomas Buchar) filed a class action lawsuit in a District Court in California last Friday. The tech giant allegedly violated antitrust laws for locking its famous iPhone to AT&T’s network disallowing the owners to taking their devices to other wireless carriers. Moreover, the plaintiffs claimed that by not obtaining consumers’ contractual consent to lock their devices to a specific carrier, Apple violated the Sherman Act that prohibits monopolization.

In 2007, Apple and AT&T signed an exclusivity agreement that would last for half a decade. Needless to say, by 2013, the agreement will expire unless these two parties renew their contracts. Since 2007, the tech giant installed software on the iPhone that prevented owners to take their device to competing wireless carriers, or at least, that’s what the lawsuit claims. Apple’s action allegedly violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); therein, an exception can be found that provides owners the right to modify their phones so they can use it on any network of their choice.

“Through these actions, Apple has unlawfully stifled competition, reduced output and consumer choice, and artificially increased prices in the aftermarkets for iPhone voice and data services,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are looking to be granted with four things here:

Monetary compensation. It is typical for any class action complaints. In fact, this lawsuit should have come as a surprise if there were no money involved. The court has to determine how much Apple has to give as compensation if they lose.

Restraining order for Apple. This is to prevent the tech giant from locking its iPhones. Plaintiffs believe the company programmed its devices to work under the umbrella of AT&T only.

Acquire code from Apple. Since the SIM cards are locked, plaintiffs want Apple to give customers unlock codes on request so they have an option to use their devices on other networks even if they’re competitors to AT&T (or any carriers Apple might sign exclusivity contract with in the future).

Order Apple to obtain consumers’ consent. Lastly, plaintiffs want to the court to order Apple from selling iPhones without disclosing that original state of the device whether it is locked to a specific carrier or not. Moreover, consumers’ consent should also be sought before selling the device.

It’s interesting to know how this lawsuit ends considering plaintiffs have their focus on Apple instead of AT&T. If you want to read the entirety of the lawsuit, follow the link provided at the end of this article.

[source: lawsuit copy]