We’ve Got an App for That

Apple Inc. won dismissal of 19 consolidated class actions Monday that claimed the company allowed applications on the iPhone to gather personal information on users and then passed into along to advertisers.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose issued to order saying the consumers failed to create a genuine issue of material fact to show a violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act or the Unfair Competition Law.

Therefore, she said, “Apple is entitled to summary judgment in its favor.”

The original lawsuits, filed in December 2008, accused apple of allowing ad networks to track which applications people download and when they are used and for how long.  They contend the ad networks can trace an iPhone or iPad by using a unique device identifier, which can’t be blocked by phone owners.

The lawsuit accused Apple of allowing apps to send information without the user’s consent.

To demonstrate standing to sue, the consumer plaintiffs had to show they relied on Apples alleged misrepresentations and suffered economic damage as a result.

The plaintiffs contend they suffered harm in the form of overpayment for the phone and reduced battery life, bandwidth and storage as a result of Apple’s misrepresentations.

But because most of the plaintiffs said in depositions and court declarations that they had not read the Apple privacy policies that came with the phone, they could not show they relied on Apple’s promises.

“None of these declarations actually states that plaintiffs read or relied on any particular Apple misrepresentation regarding privacy,” Koh wrote.

To survive a standing challenge, the plaintiffs “must be able to provide some evidence that they saw one or more of Apple’s alleged misrepresentations, that they actually relied on those misrepresentations, and that they were harmed,” she said.

Yet they failed to meet that burden, she said.

The death knell for this lawsuit has taken awhile, and Apple didn’t help themselves.

Koh dismissed the original suit in 2011, but allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended lawsuit.

In June 2012, Koh again dismissed much of the lawsuit but retained the two claims at issue Monday.

In December 2012, Apple sought summary judgment but because it relied on documents it failed to turn over to the plaintiffs, as required, Koh tossed the summary judgment until Apple could comply with the orders.

The latest, and successful motion was filed in August, with arguments in October.

Case:  In re: iPhone Application Litigation, No. 11-md-2250LHK


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