We've heard a lot about iPhone lawsuits over the last few weeks, all of them pertaining to the iPhone 4 and its antenna problem. Today, we're taking it back a little and talking about a lawsuit that dates back to 2007 and involves anyone who's ever owned an iPhone.
Wired last week revealed that on Thursday, Judge James Ware of the U.S. District court for the Northern District of California granted class action status to an antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple and AT&T three years ago, in 2007.
The suit pertains to Apple and AT&T's exclusivity agreement, which only allows customers on the AT&T network to purchase iPhones. Lead counsel Mark Rifkin spoke to Wired on Friday and explained the ins and outs of the suit, highlighting AT&T's terms for two-year contracts, which says customers have the option to terminate (for a fee) whenever they want and switch to another network. The suit argues that despite this option, iPhone owners are essentially locked to AT&T because it is the only iPhone carrier in the United States.
"The court has allowed [multiple] plaintiffs to represent 20 million consumers who have been forced to use AT&T for iPhone voice and data service, despite an agreement that allows them to terminate at any time and presumably switch carriers," Rifkin told Wired.
Though Apple and AT&T have never publicly discussed the exclusivity agreement, it is widely believed to be five years long (ending next year) and Apple's own legal team has referred to this five-year agreement in the past.