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

164623 apple att logos

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 Wired.com, 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.

Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Apple Seeds Revised Third Betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to Developers

Monday July 15, 2024 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today seeded updated third betas iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after Apple initially released the third betas. Registered developers are able to opt into the betas by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the ‌iOS 18/iPadOS 18‌ Developer Beta ...
ipaos 18 image playground

Apple Releases First iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 Public Betas

Monday July 15, 2024 1:16 pm PDT by
Apple today provided the first betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to public beta testers, bringing the new software to the general public for the first time since the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has seeded three developer betas so far, and the first public beta includes the same content that's in the third developer beta. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...