Apple sued over software lock on AT&T iPhones

By , Oct 22, 2012

Apple has become the target of a new lawsuit this weekend. iPhone owners Zach Ward and Thomas Buchar filed a putative class action lawsuit against the company on Friday over the handset’s software lock.

The two plaintiffs are claiming that Apple violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act by not obtaining customers’ permission to have their iPhones locked to AT&T’s network…

CNET reports:

“The plaintiffs claim that Apple violated the Sherman Act’s prohibition on monopolization by not obtaining consumers’ contractual consent to have their iPhones locked when the tech giant entered into a five-year exclusivity agreement with the wireless carrier in 2007.

To enforce the terms of its agreement, Apple installed software locks on the iPhone that prevented buyers from taking their devices to a competing wireless carrier, the lawsuit claims. That activity violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which includes an exception that allows handset owners to modify their phones for use on the wireless network of their choice, the plaintiffs said.”

Ward and Buchar are seeking monetary damages, as well as an order banning Apple from programming iPhones to prevent consumers from unlocking their SIM cards. They also want Apple to provide unlocks on request.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard controversy over the iPhone being locked to a wireless provider either. In fact, earlier this year, AT&T was pressured to start unlocking off-contract customer’s handsets.

Luckily, unlocking your iPhone isn’t near as difficult as it used to be. As aforementioned, there’s a good chance that AT&T will do it for you. And if not, there’s a number of vendors that’ll do it for cheap.

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  • Gerard Hampton

    I had my iphone 4s for 6 months, called up my carrier and asked for them to unlock it. they pushed through the request to itunes and it was unlocked. This was in australia though. not sure why the carrier would care if you unlock it when you have a contract to pay for the phone no matter what. Unless its different in america?

    • Air GeniuS

      Good point. It’s pretty much the same deal in the US as it is in AU. But until recently anyone with an iPhone who needed an unlock had to go through hell to get it.

      • Air GeniuS

        And Verizon/sprint customers without a SIM card slot are screwed !

  • Kok Hean

    Thankfully, the phones here are always unlocked.

    Hint: The carriers here don’t really want that.

  • http://twitter.com/iMurad07 Murad

    Locking phones is just stupid. I don’t see any benefit to the consumer!

    • http://www.facebook.com/corey87 Corey Evans

      When Apple sells a phone on a contract you are not the customer, the telco is. What’s in the best interest for the telco is for the phone to be locked.

      • http://twitter.com/iMurad07 Murad

        Aha. I didn’t know that. But then when the customer asks the telco -i.e. AT&T- to unlock the phone, they unlock it free of charge. Why?
        I’m not from the US, our telcos don’t sell locked phones, including iPhones.

  • Ignacio Irigoyen

    I do not understand why this is directed at Apple (other that having to much money) as per my understanding isn’t locking a phone something common for all phone you buy on contract?
    I know in some places this is not legal

    I mean I have some dumb phones at home that are still lock to one carrier (Motorola, samsung & Sony Ericsson).

  • @dongiuj

    Softbank in japan has been given the ok by apple to unlock iphone 4 and 4S but when i asked they blatently said “I don’t know anything about that. It’s dumb, at least when our contracts are up let us unlock the damn things.

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      I agree, once they have us lock in a contract, what do they care what we do with OUR phones? Unlock or lock, we still have to pay the contract.

  • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

    In other words they want there iphone unlocked … Apple should do it for them , they just want there 5mins of fame ..

  • http://twitter.com/intelxtreme Khan

    unlock is already out u can factory unlock iphone on ebay for 10 bucks how much more cheap

  • http://www.facebook.com/Luishalo22 Luis Perez

    My 4s is from sprint and the only way to unlock it is by Gevey sim card. So I’m not that really screw xD

  • http://twitter.com/MA5NETO Prince Akeem

    i5 unlocked on T-Mobile

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1081596834 Phil Gamboa

    If the carriers are already locking you in a contract, phones should come unlocked. They subsidize the price of the phone in exchange of a 2 year contract. If you break the contract, it costs $350. Add that to the price of $199, an you are pretty close to the price of an unlocked phone. All phones from carriers should be unlocked. I upgraded two iPhone 4S’ to IPhone 5’s on launch day. I submitted unlock requests to AT&T for both of them. A few days later, I received the unlock. I haven’t unlocked them yet because they are on 5.1.1 JB and don’t want to update to iOS 6.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.pedersen.5496 Brian Pedersen

      You have 2 iphone5 on 5.1.1?

  • Emre SÜMENGEN

    Another pair of dumb guys, with too much time (I guess) and money (I guess) and hunger for more money!

    Pfffff….