Antitrust Law

Class Action Filed Against Apple, Challenging AT&T Contract Deal

Software locks Apple installed on its early iPhones, which tied consumers into voice and data contracts with AT&T Mobility, violate antitrust laws, alleges a federal class action filed Friday in northern California.

Apple entered a five-year exclusivity agreement with AT&T in 2007, CNET reports. The suit, Ward v. Apple Inc., is on behalf of consumers who purchased an iPhone from Oct. 19, 2008 to Feb. 3, 2011.

Zach Ward and Thomas Buchar, the named plaintiffs, allege that Apple did not get buyers’ contractual consent to have phones locked when it entered the AT&T agreement, according to the publication. The plaintiffs claim that in addition to violating the Sherman Act the action violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows handset owners to modify phones regarding wireless networks.

The action, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeks an order that prevents Apple from selling iPhones without disclosing that handsets are locked. Also, the plaintiffs want an order prohibiting Apple from programming iPhones in a way that keeps consumers from unlocking their SIM cards, and they want the company to provide SIM unlock codes on request.

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