Apple cant end lawsuit over breaking FaceTime on iPhone 4, judge rules

Apple logoBack in February 2017, two Californians sued Apple in a proposed class-action lawsuit over the fact that the company disabled an older version of iOS. Disabling the outdated iOS had the effect of making FaceTime stop working on the customers' iPhone 4 devices.

According to a ruling issued last Friday by a federal judge in San Jose, California, Apple cannot get the case dismissed. US District Court Judge Lucy Koh brushed aside Apple's response to the case, including dismissing an argument that the case could not proceed on the grounds that the plaintiffs were not injured because FaceTime is a free app that comes with iPhones.

"Plaintiffs paid for their iPhones, and FaceTime is a 'feature' of the iPhone and thus a component of the iPhones cost," Judge Koh wrote.

In 2012, Apple lost a lawsuit brought by VirnetX, a patent assertion entity sometimes pejoratively called a "patent troll." As a result, Apple changed the way that FaceTime works, initially relying much more on Akamai so that it would no longer have to pay fees to VirnetX. Eventually, though, by 2014, Apple released iOS 7, which disabled FaceTime on older models. That meant that iPhone 4 and 4S owners either had to live with the change, upgrade to iOS 7 (which ran slower on the older hardware), or buy newer iPhones. (New versions of VirnetXs patent case continued on into 2016.)

"Apple broke FaceTime in order to gain a financial advantage and reduce relay fees," Judge Koh also wrote. "Further, although Apple knew that it had intentionally disabled FaceTime, Apple told consumers that FaceTime had stopped working because of a 'bug resulting from a device certificate that expired.' Apple did not tell users that Apple had intentionally caused the digital certificate to expire prematurely."

Another hearing is scheduled for August 23, 2017, with a preliminary trial date set for January 28, 2019.

Apple did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, legal action

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