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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001


Late last week, Wired reported that a lawsuit filed against Apple and AT&T over the carrier's exclusivity arrangement for the iPhone has received class action status, meaning that it now automatically covers every iPhone customer in the United States.
In an interview Friday with, Mark Rifkin, lead counsel representing the plaintiffs of the suit, highlighted that the terms of AT&T's two-year customer contract say that customers have the option to terminate whenever they wish for a fee to switch to another carrier.

By only offering the iPhone on one carrier, iPhone customers are still essentially locked in despite having the termination option, the suit argues.
Playing a significant role in the lawsuit has been the disclosure in documents related to the case that AT&T's exclusivity agreement with Apple was originally scheduled to last five years from the device's 2007 launch, or into 2012. The plaintiffs have argued that even customers fulfilling their two-year contracts with AT&T for the iPhone are unable to switch carriers and continue using their handsets, effectively locking them in to AT&T for longer than their signed contract unless they are willing to switch phones.
In a response filed by Apple's legal team in 2008, Apple claimed the allegations of monopoly were contrived.

"[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T's] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years," Apple said in a response. "Moreover, it is sheer speculation - and illogical - that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power."
Some observers have pointed to the original five-year exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T as evidence that the iPhone will not be making an appearance on Verizon or any other U.S. carrier in the near future. Multiple sources have indicated in recent years, however, that the exclusivity agreement is for a significantly shorter period of time, possibly expiring this year and opening the door for the iPhone to make its way to competing carriers. Even if the original agreement did call for a five-year exclusivity period as detailed by USA Today in 2007 and confirmed in the court documents associated with this case, it is certainly possible that Apple and AT&T have renegotiated their agreement such that more recent reports of shorter timeframes are accurate.

Article Link: Lawsuit Over AT&T's iPhone Exclusivity Gains Class Action Status


macrumors 68040
Aug 7, 2005
Up the irons
Oh this is interesting.

The plaintiffs have argued that even customers fulfilling their two-year contracts with AT&T for the iPhone are unable to switch carriers and continue using their handsets, effectively locking them in to AT&T for longer than their signed contract unless they are willing to switch phones.

That's a big reason why I don't like the iPhone. Basically turns it into an iPod when your contract is up. :) And besides, AT&T's new data plans are terrible so I bet a lot of people are going to sign up for his lawsuit.... and hope they can jump ship to Verizon.


macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2006
I think they said in the beginning, that they would unlock your iPhone after your contract was over. I never knew if that came to be true. If so, there would be no argument.
Does anyone know about this?


macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2007
Isn't is just wonderful that all iPhone customers may eventually, after five years of litigation get a $5 coupon to buy AT&T accessories for their iPhones, while the class action lawyers pocket millions?


macrumors regular
I think that this is ridiculous! I understand that people want to be able to use their phone on any network, but come on. I think 2 companies should be able to enter into an exclusive contract if they can both agree on the terms. Everyone knew the exclusivity was set for 5 years why gripe? This is EXACTLY like if a car manufacture wanted to sell their car with a specific tire and you could only buy that tire with the car. Point is: JAILBREAK THE DAMN iPHONE!


macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
You can't bitch about exclusivity, etc. b/c you don't like the carrier or want it on a different network when Verizon had first crack and turned it down, Apple had to develop Visual Voicemail with the carrier, and Verizon doesn't even support the use of Apps that require a connection while you are on a call, one of the key features to using an iPhone. Apple has partnered with multiple carriers in other countries and will most likely do so in the U.S. at some point in the next 2 years, maybe even coinciding with the launch of 4G/LTE networks which are rumored to put an end to the CDMA vs GSM dichotomy.

Get over it. People look for any angle to class action and lawyers love the publicity.


macrumors 603
Jun 4, 2007
Still dumbest lawsuit ever.

Now dumbest lawsuit ever to achieve class action status.


macrumors member
Apr 13, 2010
Wow, class action lawsuit for the exclusivity of the iphone with AT&T. Well..... all I can say is, United States of America!!!


macrumors member
Jun 8, 2009
5 Year Exclusivity

Just to be clear, the allegation is that apple and at&t have a 5 year agreement. There is no proof that an actual agreement exists. The Plaintiff, has to allege certain facts in order for their complaint not to be dismissed. Just because that allege a 5 year exclusivity agreement does not mean that they have proof of the agreement. They very easily could be throwing **** at the wall to see what sticks. If you look at the complaint and answer you will see that the 5 year agreement alleged and apple either denied that existence or stated that they did not have enough information to respond. This suit is very new and the parties have likely not even exchanged any type of information, considering that apple and at&t are still challenging whether or not there is even a basis for the suit. More information will likely be available in the coming months.


macrumors 68020
Apr 15, 2004
Washington DC
To be honest, I couldn't care less regarding the exclusivity part - but not unlocking the phone after your contract is up is pretty ridiculous. AT&T will unlock other phones they offer but won't budge on the iphone.

When your contract obligations are up, you should be able to do what you want with your phone.


macrumors 68000
Sep 15, 2009
Dallas, TX
You guys are missing the fact that the carrier is REQUIRED to unlock your phone after the contract is over. AT&T is not doing this ONLY for the iPhone.


macrumors 65816
Nov 19, 2008
They should be obliged to unlock the phones after the contract is over. That's how it is here in Europe.


macrumors 6502a
Jan 22, 2008
St. Louis, MO.
The entire cell-phone industry is price-gouging. "Data is gold".


Who cares.

The real problem as you stated is the over price of service that costs little to nothing at this point....

Show me one smartphone phone that you can take from carrier to carrier that is not already sold unlocked?

People do have choices, don't buy iPhones


macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
KingYaba. Nice sig. An article from before the iPad was even available. Not to mention it fails to mention the biggest reason I wouldn't want a netbook over an iPad. They blow chunks. If it's not for you, it's not for you. But iPad sales are outclassing expectations, so obviously a lot of people would not prefer some POS netbook.


macrumors member
Apr 5, 2006
Regardless of the particulars of this lawsuit, I hope this lawsuits helps bring an end to the ridiculous practice of locking phones to a specific network. I'm glad the iPhone 4 is being sold unlocked, but why can't I get my 3g which is no longer on contract unlocked?


macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
Boston, MA
Apple should allow us to unlock the phones after the two year contract is over or when the termination fee is payed. That's how it worked for my phones in europe.

I find it quite unfair that apple keeps the phone locked to ATT even after you paid your monthly fees for two years. At that point you have fullfilled the contract and the phone is yours.

I hope the lawsuit forces apple to come around on that.


macrumors regular
Apr 28, 2010
"even customers fulfilling their two-year contracts with AT&T for the iPhone are unable to switch carriers and continue using their handsets"

Switch to what carrier? T-Mobile?
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