Apple’s bid to have a lawsuit which claimed that it deliberately caused FaceTime video conferencing tool not to function on older models of the iPhones so that the users could be forced to upgrade has been dismissed.
Lucy Koh, a U.S. District Judge, gave a ruling to the effect that users of the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4 could proceed with efforts to pursue a class action lawsuit claiming that FaceTime was sabotaged by Apple. This was so that the tech behemoth could save on costs it was incurring when calls were routed via servers which belonged to Akamai Technologies Inc.
Use of Akamai’s servers by Apple started after the Cupertino, California-based tech giant lost a lawsuit five years. The lawsuit had been filed by VirnetX Holding Corp claiming that the technology deployed on FaceTime infringed on its patents. As an alternative Apple shifted to a relay method which required that the tech giant use servers belonging to Akamai.
A retrial which was conducted last year revealed that Akamai was paid by the iPhone maker approximately $50 million in one half-year period. According to the plaintiffs, Apple developed another operating system, the iOS 7, which was cheaper and which used a P2P technology for FaceTime. Consequently in April 2014, FaceTime was disabled on iOS 6 as well as older versions to avoid the fees it was paying to Akamai.
State law violation
According to Koh, the plaintiffs had demonstrated that the value of their smartphones had depreciated and the actions of the tech giant could been seen as trespass as well as a violation of state laws enacted to protect consumers. Koh also cited a quote that the plaintiffs had allegedly obtained from the internal email of an Apple employee in which users of iOS 6 were characterized as helpless and abandoned following the disabling of the FaceTime tool.
The U.S. District Judge also rejected arguments by Apple that there was no economic loss suffered by the plaintiffs since the FaceTime feature was free.
“FaceTime is a ‘feature’ of the iPhone and thus a component of the iPhone’s cost. Indeed, Apple advertised FaceTime as ‘one more thing that makes an iPhone an iPhone’,” wrote Koh in a footnote.
Those eligible to join the class action are owners of the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 which was installed with iOS 6 or order on 16th April 2014 and who were at the time living in the United States.