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10 Apple Lawsuits That Had a Profound Impact


Apple was founded on April 1 of 1976. Combined with the fact that it has been in a position of prominence for much of the time since its founding, it should come as no surprise to learn that Apple has been involved in numerous lawsuits of one kind or another, particularly since it has become one of the biggest and most popular companies in the world with the release of the iPod as well as all of its other digital devices. Said lawsuits have had an enormous impact on Apple, meaning that people who are interested in understanding Apple should make sure to read up about the most famous examples.

Here are 10 of the Apple lawsuits that you know about:

1. The Carl Sagan Libel Suit

For people who are unfamiliar with Carl Sagan, he was an American scientist who did much to popularize science among the American public. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that a lot of the people at Apple were big Sagan fans, so much so that they actually named the Power Macintosh 7100 after him in 1994. While the name was intended for internal use, the knowledge of its use leaked out through a publication, which resulted in Sagan sending a cease-and-desist letter out of concern that it would be seen as a product endorsement. In retaliation, the people at Apple changed the name to Butt-Head Astronomer (BHA), which resulted in a libel suit that received an out-of-court settlement, a conciliatory statement from Apple, and a second change of the name to Lawyers Are Wimps (LAW).

2. Siri Misrepresentation Suit

In 2012, a man named Frank M. Fazio sued Apple because Siri failed to live up to the expectations created by Apple advertisements at the time. Although it sounds frivolous, it is important to note that Apple actually conceded that Siri was in beta at the time of its release, which was a significant contrast to the tone set by its advertisements. With that said, it is important to note that the lawsuit was dismissed because the judge felt that a reasonable person would have realized that Siri would not be perfect and that Apple's actions did not constitute fraud.

3. Nokia Suit

Nokia sued Apple in October of 2009, claiming that it had used some of its technologies without paying for the right to use them. In response, Apple counter-sued Nokia in December of the same year, claiming that Nokia was infringing on some of its patents with their products. The result was two years' worth of litigation as well as a dizzying series of changes before the two companies reached an undisclosed settlement in 2011 that involved a transfer of cash, an ongoing transfer of some iPhone royalties, and cross-licensing for some of both companies' patents.

4. E-books Price Fixing Suit

Apple has a strong position in its market, so much so that it has attracted a number of anti-trust lawsuits over the course of its existence. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple as well as a number of publishing CEOs alleging that they had conspired to fix the prices of e-books as a way of maintaining their profits in spite of Amazon's efforts in lowering prices. Apple refused to settle the suit, which was striking because the other plaintiffs chose to settle without exception. Eventually, Apple lost the suit, having attempted to fight it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, meaning that it was forced to pay $450 million in restitution.

5. Kodak Suit

In 2010, Kodak sued both Apple and Research In Motion, claiming that the two companies had violated some of its patents for digital cameras. This led to a long and painful struggle, which was complicated by the fact that Kodak became bankrupt during the process and actually sought to use some of the patents as collateral for its loans. So far, neither side has come out as the total victor, having both won and lost some of the battles in the struggle.

6.Samsung Suit

The Samsung suits are some of the most famous examples of Apple's litigious nature. After all, it is not one but multiple suits fought in multiple courts on multiple continents over the issue of which of them had violated which patents. Billions of dollars have been thrown around by the two parties regarding their supposed damages, but so far, the damages actually awarded have been lower. For example, a 2012 suit determined that Samsung should pay $600 million to Apple in damages.

7. Motorola Suit

Like the Samsung suits, the Motorola suits have also consisted of multiple suits fought on multiple continents, which is particularly amusing because Motorola has also been locked in legal battles with Samsung. Unlike its struggle with Samsung, Apple has met with far less success when it comes to Motorola, as shown by the fact that one of its suits was actually dismissed with prejudice in 2012.

8. Apple User Suit

At one point, it was proven that Apple was actually selling the information of its users to advertisers, who could use that information to come up with more effective and efficient advertisements. Unsurprisingly, Apple users react less than positively towards the revelation, which Apple claimed was not against the terms of its agreement with its users. This has resulted in a suit in the state of Massachusetts, where some Apple users have launched a suit asking for monetary compensation as well as a stop to such practices.

9. 2001 Racial Discrimination Suit

A former product design engineer sued Apple in 2001 claiming $40 million in damages because of racial discrimination. In support of his claim, he stated that he was underpaid compared to his white co-workers. Furthermore, he claimed that he was fired for bringing a friend to the Apple campus to show him around as a way of convincing him to get a degree, which was not something that happened to other employees who they brought their friends and family members. This was not the last time that Apple would face a racial discrimination suit brought against it by one of its former employees.

10. Chinese Trademark Suit

In 2006, Apple paid for the rights to use the iPad trademark from the Taiwan-based Proview Electronics, which has registered it well before the tech titan. However, it turned out that the acquisition did not cover its use in mainland China, with the result that Apple had to fight a legal battle for the right to use the trademark as well as claims of damages from the Taiwanese company. In the end, Apple paid Proview Electronics $60 million as part of a court-mediated settlement, which was critical for its continuing operations in mainland China.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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