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Apple facing class action lawsuits over throttling disclosure

The California-based technology giant Apple is facing a consumer backlash after it was revealed that older iPhone models slow considerably when their iOS operating systems are updated. Apple claims that the decision to slow down the performance of older iPhones was made to make their lithium batteries last longer, but critics of the Cupertino-based company say that the throttling is designed to encourage consumers to purchase the latest iPhone 8, 8 plus and X models.

The allegations had gained traction largely because the performance issues were only revealed when a Geekbench developer ran a series of tests. Many Apple customers reacted angrily to the news, and reports indicate that the company is facing at least nine class action lawsuits filed by unhappy iPhone owners. Litigation filed in California, which seeks an eye-watering $999 billion in damages, accuses Apple of fraud through concealment and using unfair business practices.

Apple took steps to repair its reputation by publishing a letter to its customers on December 28. However, the letter apologized for the company's lack of transparency and not for its deliberate slowing of older models. The issue could be an even thornier one for Apple in parts of the world with planned obsolescence laws. In France, where such laws are strict, a consumer rights organization has filed a criminal complaint against the company. Under French law, companies that impair older products can face fines of as much as 5 percent of their annual sales.

Corporations with large cash reserves often find themselves facing business litigation following allegations of impropriety, and the way that they respond to them can either repair or further harm their reputations. Attorneys with experience in this area may be able to assess lawsuits involving unfair or unlawful business practices and recommend appropriate action. In certain situations, attorneys may suggest that this type of legal action be settled quickly and discretely.

Source: The New York Times, Apple, Epson Face French Legal Complaints Over Allegedly Shortening Life of Products, Reuters, Dec. 28, 2017

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