San Francisco, CA: Apple is facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed this week over allegations it charges iTunes customers extra for accessing high definition (HD) media products for older Apple devices, despite the fact that those devices lack HD capability.
In the lawsuit, lead plaintiff Scott J. Weiselberg claims that the default download option provided on Apple' iTunes is HD, which is more expensive than non-HD options for movie and TV show rentals, for example.
In 2008, Apple began offering movie and video download rentals for its iPhone, iPod and iPad devices. However, early models of these devices were not equipped with HD, and so cannot run HD content, but are restricted to playing standard definition (SD) content instead. Newer versions of Apple products are HD-capable.
The lawsuit alleges that in June 2010 Weiselberg, who owned a 3G SD iPhone, rented the movie "Big Daddy"from iTunes, paying $4.99 in rental fees. He alleges he was unaware that a cheaper option was available for rental-- the SD version of the movie. Had he known, he claims, that would have been the version of the movie he would have rented.
Weiselberg alleges that while Apple eventually added a notice to the iTunes download notifying customers of the availability of SD, by that time Apple had already collected "millions of dollars in undeserved profits."
Specifically, the lawsuit states, "Despite the fact that Apple makes the HD version of the content offerings the default rental option, Apple failed to disclose to customers using SD Apple mobile devices that the device could not play the HD content being rented, and that the customer was needlessly paying the premium for the HD option."
The consumer fraud class action claims that Apple' failure to notify its customers of the SD option is a violation of California' Unfair Competition Law. He is seeking restitution, an injunction and damages for unjust enrichment.
Weiselberg and plaintiffs are represented by Richard Kellner of Kabateck, Brown and Kellner.