SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — A civil lawsuit filed in California accuses Apple of creating an unlawful iPhone monopoly and vindictively releasing a software update that turns hacked devices into "iBricks."
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Damian Fernandez on behalf of a California man, accuses Apple of creating a monopoly by barring US customers from choosing a cellphone service provider other than US telecom giant AT&T.
The lawsuit also says Apple released last month a software update that disables iPhones that customers managed to unlock to choose another carrier.
Fernandez, who filed the lawsuit on October 5, is seeking "class action" status to expand the litigation to cover all US iPhone buyers.
In court documents, Fernandez estimates that Apple has sold 1.28 million iPhones since they went on sale in the United States on June 29.
Several hundred thousand of those phones were hacked to enable them to connect to service providers other than AT&T, which has a five-year deal to be the exclusive US telephone service for the devices.
The lawsuit says Apple has created a monopoly by forcing iPhone buyers to use AT&T and not "unlocking" the devices to allow service by rival carriers.
An update released September 27 for iPhone software disables hacked devices, turning the phones into "iBricks," the suit alleged.
"Apple punished consumers for exercising their rights to unlock their iPhones," Fernandez says in court documents.
"Apple issued a software update that 'bricked' or otherwise caused iPhone malfunctions for consumers who unlocked their phones and installed the update."
The suit demands a jury trial and asks the court to order Apple to unlock iPhones and provide warranty service to hacked devices.
It also demands Apple be forced to pay unspecified cash damages.
"Apple's unlawful trust with AT&T substantially lessens competition and tends to create a monopoly in trade and commerce throughout the entire United States," Fernandez claims in the suit.
Apple declined to comment.
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