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Apple MacBook class action lawsuit moving forward — what it means for you

MacBook Pro
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

A class action lawsuit against Apple will be allowed to go ahead after a judge certified the case on March 8 in California. The action focuses on the 2016-2019 MacBook Pro and 2018-2019 MacBook Air models which used Apple’s controversial butterfly keyboards. Apple stopped using these keyboards in 2020.   

As reported by The Verge, the class action is being brought by 11 owners of butterfly switch equipped Macs from eight U.S. states and claims that Apple knew butterfly switches were defective. The lawsuit also alleges that Apple was aware that laptops with the keyboards were being returned at a far higher rate. While Apple did continue to work on the design, it also continued to attract criticism. 

In 2018 a Change.org petition was started asking Apple to recall every MacBook Pro (although it was not the only machine affected) and replace the keyboard with a different design. That petition is still live, but has more than 42,000 signatories. 

In 2019, Apple issued an apology to users who were having problems. It said, “We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”

Apple lawsuit: What happens next

Now that the case has been certified the case can be heard an Apple will either opt to settle with affected users or have the case hear in court. Anyone who bought one of the affected machines can fill in a questionnaire and the legal firm will consider if you can be represented in any upcoming case. 

You’ll need to have bought one of the following machines: 

  • 2015 MacBook
  • 2016 MacBook, MacBook Pro
  • 2017 MacBook, MacBook Pro
  • 2018 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air
  • 2019 MacBook Pro (excluding the 16-inch MacBook Pro), MacBook Air  

Not every state is currently represented in the lawsuit as it has not been made national yet. However. anyone from California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington will be covered by the suit as it stands now. 

For many people the functionality of the Butterfly keyboards was simply a matter of taste. However, long-term reliability was clearly an issue and any dust or other particles getting trapped in the mechanism could present a real problem for users of the machines which included this design. 

A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.