The first class-action suit over the iPhone 4’s antenna is filed in Maryland
Is there any company that sues or gets sued more than Apple (AAPL)?
According to the Wikipedia entry Apple Inc. Litigation, Apple itself has filed more than 350 cases with the U.S. Trademark Office alone between Jan. 2008 and May 2010, including suits over the use of the term “apple” by people who sell the fruit.
So there’s a certain divine justice in the fact that the iPhone 4’s widely publicized issues with its antenna design triggered a race among America’s personal injury law firms to be the first to file a class-action suit.
A Sacramento firm got a lot of press when it began trolling for plaintiffs earlier this week. But the prize went to two East Coast firms that sued Apple and AT&T (T) Wednesday in a U.S. District Court in Maryland on behalf of Linda Wrinn and Kevin McCaffrey, a pair of Maryland residents who each bought two iPhone 4s and discovered, according to the complaint, that the devices dropped calls and data service “when held in a manner consistent with normal wireless phone use.” (link)
There are few surprises in the document, which you can read in toto at Gizmodo and which could have been written by anyone who has been following the story on Techmeme. It quotes Steve Jobs’ e-mails (“Just avoid holding it in that way”) and, via the Boy Genius Report, Apple internal communications (“WE ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers — DON’T promise free bumpers to customers.”)
[UPDATE: All Things D‘s John Paczkowski has posted excerpts from a brief interview with one of the lawyers on the case.]
Nobody except maybe a few lawyers is going to get rich from this. Apple does occasionally settle such suits, but it doesn’t give the plaintiffs much. In May 2005 it settled a case involving the battery life of iPods dating back to first-generation units purchased in 2001. For their trouble, eligible members of the class were given warranties, store credit, cash compensation or a new battery.
Below: Wikipedia‘s summary of our favorite Apple legal saga — the story of the company’s long-running battle with the late Carl Sagan.
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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]