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Judge rules lawsuit claiming Apple broke FaceTime can proceed

Apple tried to get it dismissed, but a judge denied its motion.
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Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple was hit with a lawsuit earlier this year that claims the company purposefully broke FaceTime on iOS 6 in order to push people to upgrade to iOS 7. And as of late last week, Apple failed to get the suit dismissed as District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that iPhone 4 and 4S users can pursue claims against Apple.

The whole situation is a result of Apple wanting to reduce the cost of using third-party servers to manage FaceTime calls. Doing so was costing the company millions of dollars per month in fees, so with iOS 7, Apple changed the way FaceTime functioned so that the third-party servers weren't used as often. However, users of iPhone 4s and 4Ss were still using iOS 6 so, allegedly, Apple let a security certificate lapse in order to break FaceTime for iOS 6 and force customers to upgrade their operating systems.

In its attempt to get rid of the lawsuit, Apple claimed that users didn't suffer economic loss because FaceTime is free. But in her decision, Koh said, "Plaintiffs paid for their iPhones, and FaceTime is a 'feature' of the iPhone and thus a component of the iPhone's cost. Indeed, Apple advertised FaceTime as "one more thing that makes an iPhone an iPhone."

Apple also tried to argue that iPhone users weren't entitled to FaceTime service saying that the Plaintiffs "have no right to uninterrupted, continuous, or error-free" FaceTime. To which, Judge Koh responded, "Plaintiffs do not allege that FaceTime operation was interrupted, or that it contained errors. Rather Plaintiffs allege that Apple in effect made FaceTime unavailable to owners of iPhone 4 and 4S devices...The unavailability of FaceTime is different from 'interruptions' or 'errors' in FaceTime."

The plaintiffs are seeking both loss and punitive damages in amounts that will be determined at trial.

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