Apple takes on suits over e-books and Siri

Company lost bid to throw out e-book consumer suit; fights back in Siri case

Although litigation is no stranger to computer giant Apple Inc., two of the company’s legal issues seem to be standing out in the news more than others.

Antitrust Bust

On Tuesday, Apple—along with publishers Macmillan and Penguin—failed to persuade the U.S. District Court in New York to throw out  a suit consumers filed accusing Apple and five publishers of conspiring to raise electronic book prices in 2010. The suit is related to the Department of Justice’s April charges that Apple and the publishers partook in an "illegal conspiracy" to fix the prices of e-books, a violation of antitrust laws.

Apple, Macmillan and Penguin said in court Tuesday that they plan to defend themselves against the government charges. The next pretrial hearing is set for June 22. The other three publishers charged—Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster—have agreed to a proposed settlement.

Subpar Siri

Meanwhile, Apple is defending itself against claims its Siri  voice-recognition software—used on the iPhone 4S—isn’t performing as the company advertised. Back in November, iPhone 4S owner Frank Fazio filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company’s commercials are misleading and deceptive with regard to Siri’s capabilities, and as a result consumers purchase the product expecting a more superior feature than they get. A cluster of these suits seeking class action status popped up soon after. And Apple is fighting back.

Apple, which is being represented by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher on these matters, said in a recent court filing that while Siri may not be perfect, she is still “cutting edge” technology. Apple also reminded the court that it has been upfront about Siri still being in Beta and pointed out that plaintiffs have not said how the company’s advertising of the product has been misleading.

“Tellingly, although Plaintiffs claim they became dissatisfied with Siri’s performance ‘soon after’ purchasing their iPhones, they made no attempt to avail themselves of Apple’s 30-day return policy or one-year warranty—which remains in effect,” Apple said in its filing. “Instead, they seek to take an alleged personal grievance about the purported performance of a popular product and turn it into a nationwide class action under California’s consumer protection statutes.” 

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Cathleen Flahardy

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