Apple to issue $40 compensation checks to owners of certain iPad 3G units following AT&T class action suit over unlimited data plans

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Date: Monday, September 30th, 2013, 07:57
Category: iPad, Legal, News

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If you own a cellular-enabled iPad, You might be getting a check in the mail in the near future.

Per Law360, a US district court judge in San Jose approved a proposed settlement between Apple and wireless carrier AT&T on Thursday, according to Law360. Under the proposed plan, Apple will pay US$40 to everyone in the United States who bought or ordered a 3G-enabled iPad on or before June 7, 2010.

Additionally, cellular-enabled iPad owners who did not sign up with AT&T will get a US$20 per month discount on the telecom’s 5GB per month plan for up to a year.

The class action suit is looking to rectify an issue iPad buyers faced after purchasing the tablet. Some customers may have based their decision to buy at least in part on the promise of unlimited data through AT&T, which was the first U.S. carrier to offer the iPad with cellular capabilities. In a somewhat controversial move, the telecom nixed unlimited plans in 2010 in favor of a tiered model, citing bandwidth constraints.

At the time, data was capped at 2GB per month, but subscribers can now go as high as 5GB per month, which includes tethering to other devices. As a consolation to frustrated users, AT&T allows those unlimited data plans to continue their service as long as there is no break in payments. Device tethering is not offered for grandfathered all-you-can-eat plans and once a subscriber switches to a tiered option, they cannot return to unlimited.

The deal is subject to final approval, which is expected in February of 2014. At that point, Apple will begin contacting all eligible customers to inform them of their pending settlement check.

Those who no longer own their original iPad will still be eligible for the deal as long as they didn’t sign on to an AT&T data plan with that device, due to a no-class action clause in the carrier’s contracts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises iTunes EULA, allows Educational accounts to users under 13

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 11:05
Category: iTunes, Legal, News, Software

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Your students will be able to open Educational accounts under Apple’s revised iTunes End User License Agreement.

Per Macworld, Apple on Thursday altered its iTunes Terms and Conditions to permit children under the age of 13 to operate individual iTunes accounts created at the request of an “approved educational institution.”

Previously, Apple restricted iTunes accounts to children aged 13 or older, but the company announced it would be changing its policy with the release of iOS 7.

The new terms are as follows:
“These App and Book Services are only available for individuals aged 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.”

With Apple’s new educational policies, schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining “verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.” In addition, Apple also plans to introduce better tools for teachers.

iOS 7, which is expected to be released to the public in the fall, offers new Mobile Device Management options allowing teachers to set up managed apps, configure accessibility options, and restrict changes to accounts. Teachers will be able to lock student iPads to a particular app as well, to ensure that students are “on the same activity at the same time.”

The new operating system will also bring an App Store Volume Purchase Program designed to allow educational institutions to assign apps to users while maintaining ownership and control over app licenses.

Apple’s policy shift comes as the company continues its push for iPads in educational institutions. Apple has been involved in several large deals in recent months and won a US$30 million contract from the L.A. Unified School District in June that will see the district purchasing iPads for every student in its 47 schools. Apple also met with the Turkish President earlier this year about a potential US$4.5 billion deal that would provide Turkish schoolchildren with as many as 15 million tablets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple vows to aid investigation surrounding electrocution of 23-year-old woman using charging iPhone 5

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News

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It’s hard to say where this will go.

Per Reuters, Apple has said it will aid in the investigation of the death of a Chinese woman who was allegedly electrocuted when she answered a charging iPhone 5.

Apple announced the company is “deeply saddened” by the “tragic incident” that killed 23-year-old Xinjiang woman Ma Ailun. Apple vowed to “fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.”

Police say Ma was killed when she answered a call on her charging iPhone 5. The story gained traction when her sister wrote on the microblog Sina Weibo to warn other users to be careful.

Prior to the incident in China, there have been no widespread claims about faulty charging with the iPhone 5. Apple did recall iPhone 3G power adapters back in 2008 over a shocking risk that affected just a “very small” number of adapters.

Negative publicity in China regarding warranty policies prompted Apple to issue a formal apology in April. Since then, the company has been more aggressive in publicly responding to negative reports from the Chinese media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple files for “iWatch” trademark in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Columbia

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Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:09
Category: Legal, News

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The “iWatch” international patent/trademark tour continues.

Per 9to5Mac, in addition to filing a trademark for the name “iWatch” in Russia and Japan, Apple has requested a trademark for “iWatch” with Mexico’s Institute of Industrial Property. The Mexico-based filing was made public in recent days, but the request was originally filed on June 3rd. Apple filed the iWatch trademark under two categories relating to the hardware and software of mobile devices, according to the submitted documents.

The “iWatch” trademark request in Mexico is tied to Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop address in Cupertino, California, and Apple Inc. is noted as the company behind the filing. According to the documents, the person who submitted the request for Apple is named Maria Teresa Eljure Tellez. This person is the Head of the Trademark department at Mexico-based law firm Arochi, Marroquín, & Linder, S.C. This firm also appears on other Apple trademarks in Mexico such as for the iPad and other recently launched products.

The fact that Apple seems to be on a world tour of applying for the “iWatch” name trademark adds even more weight to the possibility of Apple launching a wearable-computing device in the near future.

Reports are currently split between Apple launching the device either later this year or later in 2014. The product will likely include sensors to gain data about the user in addition to functionality, such as mapping, messaging, and phone apps, that could interact with iOS Devices such as the iPad or iPhone.

Other than the “iWatch” trademark, the rest of the filing, like the ones from Japan and Russia, is fairly vague other than the aforementioned categories of the filing requests. Notably, the three thus-far discovered requests from Apple were filed within the same week of each other.

Apple is expected to debut new versions of the iPhone and iPad later this year, and it is yet to be seen if the watch-like device is ready to join Apple’s plans for this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple sets up web site, offers refunds and credits for claimants in iTunes Store class action lawsuit

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Date: Monday, June 24th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Legal, News, retail, Software

It’s hard to argue with the results of a class action lawsuit.

Still, it might be a refund coming your way thanks to your children purchasing items via the iTunes Store.

Per AppleInsider, Apple appears to have finalized the details of its settlement agreement for a class action suit over in-app purchases on iPhones and iPads, with the Cupertino company offering millions of dollars in refunds and iTunes credits.

A home page for the settlement program went live recently, laying out the options available for claimants in the class action suit over Apple’s in-app purchase policies. That suit, filed in 2011, alleged that Apple’s structure for processing in-app purchases was insufficient to stop minors from charging tens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars to their parents’ accounts without permission.

Under the settlement agreement, Apple will provide a single US$5 iTunes Store credit to claimants in the suit or a credit “equal to the total amount of Game Currency that a minor charged to your iTunes account without your knowledge or permission within a single forty-five day period.” For claimants that no longer have an active iTunes account, a cash refund is available, as is the case for those whose claims exceed US$30 in total.

All United States residents are eligible for an award from the settlement, provided that, prior to May 2, 2013, they paid for an in-app purchase in a qualified app. The purchase must have been charged to their iTunes account by a minor without their knowledge or permission. The deadline to submit a claim is January 13, 2014, and the deadline to object to or opt out of the settlement is August 30, 2013.

In-app purchases stepped into the spotlight over the last few years as developers looked for a way to further monetize their apps. As the option became more popular, complaints arose that it was too easy for children to rack up sizable charges on their parents’ accounts.

Apple already had some protections in place to stop minors from abusing in-app purchases, but the company was forced by the attention from several cases to modify its iTunes Store listings in order to warn users which apps featured additional paid content. The company has since stepped up its educational efforts in order to bring parents up to speed on what they can do to head off unwanted expenditures.

If you feel you meet the criteria for a claim, head over to the web site and let us know how your experience panned out in the comments.

iPhone 4 “Antennagate” owners beginning to receive settlement checks from Apple

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

It’s not a whopping amount of justice, but it’s still justice.

Or at least a settlement.

Per 9to5Mac, iPhone 4 owners who participated in a class action lawsuit against Apple over antenna attenuation complaints are finally starting to receive settlement checks.

More than a year ago, Apple reached a settlement with attorneys for the class action complaint, agreeing to pay US$53 million to make the problem go away after supposedly “misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software.”

Owners who cashed in on Cupertino’s earlier offer of a free bumper or case were not eligible for the settlement, so if you haven’t seen a check, that could be why. According to recipients, the settlement checks for a whopping US$15 were issued on April 17 and must be cashed by July 16, 2013 or they are null and void.

Why only 15 smackeroos? Apparently the class action lawyers took home a US$16 million fee from the settlement, which doesn’t make anyone feel any better…

If you’ve received a settlement check for the iPhone 4 antenna issue, please let us know in the comments.

Class action lawsuit launched over alleged LG display flaws in 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:13
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If you feel like the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has let you down, you’re not along.

Per 9to5Mac and Law360, since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. This has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views.

Apple presently uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG. Today, MacBook Pro user Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Hodges is apparently seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lawmakers drafting bipartisan bill that would allow for cell phone unlocking after contract terms have been met

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Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

Well, maybe SOME aspects of the government sort of work.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. Senator Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow users to legally unlock their smartphone once their contract subsidy has concluded.

The Democrat from Minnesota announced on Tuesday that the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” would restore an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and allow users to unlock their cell phone once their contract expires.

Joining Franken were Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The senators defined the bill as a “narrow and common sense proposal” that they believe will promote competition and improve consumer choice.

The bill was prompted by a Library of Congress ruling made in late 2012 that determined cell phone unlocking would be removed as a legal exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As of Jan. 26, 2013, unauthorized unlocking of all newly purchased phones became illegal. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one.” — Sen. Al Franken

“Right now, folks who decide to change cellphone carriers are frequently forced to buy a new phone or risk the possibility of criminal penalties, and that’s just not fair for consumers,” Franken said. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one. I support this commonsense solution to save consumers money.”

Last week, President Barack Obama’s administration also came out in support of legalizing the unlocking of cell phones and tablets. Their endorsement was given in response to a White House petition created by Sina Khanifar, which to date has received nearly 115,000 signatures.

Khanifar said he frequently travels from Europe to San Francisco, Calif. Those international trips have made cell phone locking not only a nuisance, but also a financial burden.

“Anyone who travels internationally, and most people do at some point, you won’t be able to take your cell phone with you,” he said. “Trying to use it with the existing roaming fees that carriers charge is almost impossible because they’re so exorbitant.”

The proposed Senate bill would alleviate those issues for consumers like Khanifar. A similar bipartisan bill is also expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this week.

“It just makes sense that cell phone users should be able to do what they want with their phones after satisfying their initial service contract,” Hatch said. “This bill reinstates that ability, while also ensuring that copyrights are not violated.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lawmakers looking to draft legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking

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Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 06:13
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

This could lead to something interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, following a statement from the White House on Monday confirming it would support “narrow legislative fixes” to make unlocking cellphones legal again, several lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation. According to a report from The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Senator Amy Klobuchar have confirmed they will introduce bills in support of the legalization of cellphone unlocking:

“I intend to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to restore users’ ability to unlock their phones and provide them with the choice and freedom that we have all come to expect in the digital era,” Leahy said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee, which handles copyright issues, would likely have jurisdiction over any bill to legalize cellphone unlocking.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said she plans to introduce her own bill this week.

During a recent panel discussion on Capitol Hill, other lawmakers voiced their support for the legislation, including Representatives Darrell Issa and Jared Polis, while The Hill reported the Federal Communication Commissions’ Jessica Rosenworcel “encouraged Congress to re-examine the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

The decision was made by the Library of Congress in October to make unlocking cellphones illegal, and that policy officially took effect in January. Following the White House’s statement in response to a petition with over 110,000 signatures, the Library of Congress issued a statement and agreed that “the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

White House backs petition for unlocking of phones after contract expires

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Date: Monday, March 4th, 2013, 14:05
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

If you were looking for a bit of positive news today, this might be it.

Per Engadget, a recent ruling that effectively bans third-party phone unlocking has elicited 114,322 electronic signatures to the White House. Now a petition to the White House, which asks that DMCA protection of phone unlockers be reconsidered, has finally received an official response. R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy, had this to say:

“The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties,” Edelman writes. All told, the response matches that of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which wrote a letter to the Librarian of Congress in support of extending the exemption last year.

Edelman went on to state: “The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.” We’re not going to see immediate change, but it appears that a chain of events is now in motion in which the FCC and Congress potentially play a huge role.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.