Australia seeks ban on iPad 4G claims
Competition regulator says Apple is misleading consumers because iPad HD does not work in the country's LTE bands
Published: 28 March, 2012
The week has seen various twists in the wireless patent wars already. Australian antitrust regulators have slammed Apple for labelling its new iPad as '4G', while judges are getting impatient with the Google-Oracle saga.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it will apply to the federal court in Melbourne for an injunction again the new iPad HD, and for fines, refunds to customers, and corrective advertising, as penalties for misleading customers. Australia has proved a legal hotbed for Apple in recent months, staging the first major courtroom battles against Samsung's Galaxy Tab, with mixed results.
The ACCC alleges that Apple is misleading Australian consumers because the iPad cannot connect to a 4G network in the country. The cellular version of the tablet is advertised as the "new iPad with WiFi + 4G" but as yet it only works with LTE on the 700MHz and 2.1GHz bands used by AT&T and Verizon. These are not commonly used in most of the rest of the world, even where LTE is available. In Australia, Telstra supports 4G in some markets, but in 1.8GHz, while most European operators will initially deploy in 800MHz and/or 2.6GHz.
"Consumers who have purchased or are considering purchasing an 'iPad with WiFi + 4G' should ensure that they have a proper understanding of the mobile data networks which this iPad can directly access by a SIM card," the ACCC said. The small print in documents offered by the Australian Apple Stores does mention that 4G can only be used overseas. "The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the US and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada," the iPad product page says.
Meanwhile, Apple is in court in Germany defending its iPad against alleged unfair competition from the Motorola Xoom. Motorola Mobility argued on Tuesday that its tablet differs significantly from the original iPad, though Apple is alleging that it illegally copied that product's design. Apple is suing its rival on three counts of design patent infringement in Dusseldorf, and is also taking action for alleged competition law infringement.
Motorola's lawyer said there were very clear indications on the front and back of the Xoom and there was "no way" it could be mistaken for an iPad. The presiding judge had said in her opening remarks that the court considered the evenly-bent rear side and the shaped edges on the front suitable to give the Xoom an individual character. A ruling is scheduled for May 31.
And if judges in Europe and Australia seem increasingly impatient with Apple's bids for injunctions against rival products, that is nothing to the exasperation publicly expressed by those presiding over Oracle's copyright and patent infringement cases against Google, centering on alleged Android copying from Java. The trial is set for April 16, after several delays while the judge insisted that Oracle come up with more reasonable damages claims, and while some patents were removed from the complaint. Now magistrate judge Paul Grewal - who presided over failed settlement talks involving both firms' CEOs last fall - is calling on the antagonists to make one last attempt to come to an out-of-court agreement. Lawyers from both sides have been ordered to propose dates for a settlement conference, to be held before April 9.
Pages: 1 | 2