CopyCat Video Chat; Apple’s Bid to Dismiss FaceTime Lawsuit Fails

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Apple - Image via Smarter Analyst

Apple Inc currently faces a lawsuit which claims the company disabled their popular FaceTime feature on older models of the iPhone in order to force users to upgrade.

Apple was working on a bid to dismiss the lawsuit. However, on Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that iPhone 4 and 4S users can pursue nationwide class action claims that Apple intentionally “broke”  their FaceTime feature in order to save money from routing calls through servers owned by Akamai Technologies Inc.

According to Reuters, Apple began using Akamai servers back in 2012 after the company lost a lawsuit in which VirnetX Holding Corp claimed that FaceTime technology infringed its patents.

According to the plaintiffs, Apple created a cheaper version of their video chat feature for its iOS 7 operating system, but in April 2014 the company disabled FaceTime on iOS 6 and earlier systems.

The plaintiffs claim the disabling of the feature on their phones not only lowered the value of their phones but also constituted a trespass and violated state consumer protection laws.

Apple argued and said there was no way the plaintiffs suffered any economic loss because the FaceTime feature was a “free” service. However, Judge Koh sided with the plaintiffs and said the feature is what “makes an iPhone an iPhone.”

“FaceTime is a ‘feature’ of the iPhone and thus a component of the iPhone’s cost,” Koh said in a footnote. “Indeed, Apple advertised FaceTime as ‘one more thing that makes an iPhone an iPhone.'”

The FaceTime feature was implemented by Apple in 2011. The video-calling service provides Apple users with high-definition video chatting which they can access through their iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac devices.

The plaintiffs are led by Christina Grace of Marin County, California, and Ken Potter of San Diego County, California, who both owned the iPhone 4. The case is Grace et al v Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 17-00551.

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