SAN JOSE (CN) – Apple iPhone users can sue Apple and AT&T for their exclusive service contract, under the Sherman Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and computer fraud laws. U.S. District Judge James Ware granted a motion for class certification, finding “plaintiffs have offered sufficient evidence of the ability to prove antitrust impact on a class-wide basis.”
In the original complaint, filed in 2007, customers claimed they had purchased the required 2-year contract with AT&T. But they say that “Apple and AT&T had secretly agreed to technologically restrict voice and data service in the aftermarket for continued voice and data services for five years, i.e., after Plaintiffs’ initial two year service period expired. Plaintiffs also allege that Apple monopolized the aftermarket for third party software applications for the iPhone, and that Apple caused the iPhone to become unusable if it detected that a customer had ‘unlocked’ their iPhone for use with other service providers,” according to Ware’s 26-page order.
Apple and AT&T claimed that their customers could not prove they had suffered actual injuries from the alleged antitrust law violations.
But Judge Ware found it more appropriate to certify the class rather than prosecute individual antitrust claims: “the Court finds that the factors of Rule 23(b)(3) favor adjudication in a class setting as superior to individual actions. The potential number of class members is indisputably in the thousands, if not greater. Moreover, it is unlikely that the majority of class members suffered losses of a magnitude that would justify individual actions for antitrust violations against large corporate defendants. In light of the core set of common legal and factual questions, a class action appears manageable. Thus, the Court finds that class treatment is superior to individual actions.
“Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ Motion to Certify a Rule 23(b)(3) class.”