Apple Sues Teen Who Sold Repair Parts To Make Your iPhone Into A Mythical White iPhone

from the oh-come-on dept

People have been talking about a “white iPhone” for ages, expecting that Apple would eventually reintroduce a model with a white back, which it had on an older model. However, one enterprising teen started offing a conversion kit last fall that would let people “repair” their own iPhones and replace the back with a white back that he sourced from China, where they were apparently labeled as “repair parts.” All of that sounds like something that should be perfectly legal. After all, you bought your phone, you should be able to modify it, and the kid selling the parts should be able to sell you those parts. But, instead, Apple sued NYC-based teenager Fei Lam last week, and he’s apparently taking on the company without a lawyer. It’s too bad, but he’s expected to settle the case rather than fight Apple. I can totally understand why he’d settle, but it’s really quite ridiculous that Apple would sue over this.

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Comments on “Apple Sues Teen Who Sold Repair Parts To Make Your iPhone Into A Mythical White iPhone”

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82 Comments
Benjamin (profile) says:

Seriously? Well then Apple can go ahead and sue Home Depot too, ’cause I got my white-iPhone conversion kit there yesterday for $3.99. It came in a bottle. I just had to get one of the kids in the orange aprons to open up the cage for me, because there are very strict anti-graffiti laws in my county.

Go ahead, Steve, tell me how my solution is legally different from a white backing.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why shouldn’t you be sued for modifying Apple’s property (the iPhone)?

After all Sony sued George Hotz for modifying Sony’s property (the PS3 console).

The record labels don’t want their property being uploaded to digital storage lockers (the mp3’s you paid for on Amazon).

(today it’s sarcasm, tomorrow reality)

PRMan (profile) says:

And this...

This is why I didn’t buy an iPad a few weeks back. I held out for the Asus Transformer and I’m so glad I did. A nice, open platform. So open, that when Google removed all of Yongzh’s emulators last week, I was able to get them all from another app store so I can play my old games on my shiny new tablet.

With this move, Apple has just joined my “lifetime ban” list. I’ll never buy another Apple product again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Poor kid, had an idea and went with it. Doesn’t really get more American than that. He saw an opportunity to fill a need and now he is being sued by one of the worlds largest corporations. That would be enough to make me settle as soon as possible. I would try reaching out to the EFF and see if they could offer any assistance. If not a “you are out of your mind” letter, perhaps someone with a little legal know how to make sure that Apple doesn’t screw the kid over.

Donnicton says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately, the EFF likely would not help them in this case. They very rarely help individuals these days, where they can instead send a form letter amounting to ‘we’re too busy, check our site for a lawyer in your area!’

That’s not to denigrate the work that the EFF does in a grander sense, but that’s simply the truth of the matter these days.

TheStupidOne says:

Legit Trademark Claim

Now i normally cheer for the little guy and I disagree with Apple on most everything, but I read about this a few days ago and the kid was selling counterfeit iPhone hardware. It wasn’t that he sold a generic conversion kit, he sold a conversion kit that had all of Apple’s branding on it. It is an open and shut case.

That said, the fact that some kid could make that much money selling exactly what Apple should have offered themselves tells a lot about Apple itself. They could have easily offered their own conversion kit. They could have just as easily sold a phone with a white back. Instead they stuck to their classic you will only buy what we say you will buy and like what we say you will like attitude instead of attempting to actually meet demand.

I wish the kid had just sold a plain white back for the phone, cause then he’d win the suit, but I imagine he wouldn’t have made as much money

HothMonster says:

Re: Legit Trademark Claim

a large company refusing to provide customers with what they want and then suing private citizens for meeting the demands of the market that the company purposefully ignored? That would never happen.

In all seriousness I agree with ^ its a shame the didn’t have plain white cases so he could tell Apple to blow it out its ass right now. But he wanted to make a few extra bucks and sell to elitist idiots who actually care what logo is on their phone and left himself open to Apple’s dogs of law.

Of course Apple should be blamed for ignoring its customer base and refusing to create accessories or options that people want. Of course it was all so they could launch a white iphone 1 year after the black iphones so they could get idiots to buy them outside of contract. I amazed at this companies ability to hold such a strong cult following while simultaneously raping the same fan base and all the ever say is check out this sweat Apple brand penis in my colon.

That Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why are people standing up for the kid?

Foxconn contracts also have nonsuicide clauses, they seem less than enforceable.

Everyone wants to call it stolen goods, have any of you actually proven it or is it just an assumption on your part?

Are they actual Foxconn parts, or were they knock offs?

Because we know it is impossible to copy an Apple product because of the reality distortion field. There are not hundreds of apple look alike products out there, often appearing within days of the real products release.

He was selling some parts made of plastic (I think, I lack an iPhone to know) that only Foxconn could ever produce. Foxconn controls the supply of all plastic and fabrication equipment in the world capable of making a white button or a white plate that fits a specific size.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It was losing the very reason why trademarks exist, to provide the consuming public with a measure of assurance that a product is a genuine product and approved/supported by Apple.

I can only wonder what would happen if a “White Apple” is created using the kit, and then something goes wrong necessitating warranty service from Apple.

Ryan Diederich says:

Foolish People

Some people on this forum are pretty stupid.

First thing: Hes a kid, he didnt take if off the back of a truck, its a chinese company, grow some brains. He bought it online.

The parts WERERNT manufactured for apple under contract, or else that would mean that Apple WAS actually about to release the white plate.

The logo shouldnt matter, the company (and the law for that matter) should be able to use discretion and determine that the kid posed no threat to their name.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Foolish People

trademark, contrary to what the corporations would like so they could gouge yet more people for yet more money, has NOTHING to do with people using other people’s names or anything like that. it’s about the customer actually getting what they think they’re getting. the logo does matter. it’s the entire freaking point, and for once this is a corporation with a valid trade mark case that’s not built on bullshit if i’m reading this correctly.

it’s not about if he posses a threat to apple’s name.
it’s about the issues caused for the customer. (i mean, really, you want ANNOTHER reason for a corproation to go out of their way to be unhelpful when their product has issues?)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

let’s see… if i wanted to make money and improve good will, B. if i wanted to avoid potentual legal issues, A. A slightly reduces the positive gain of B, but none the less the two togeather works nicely and one gains at minimal risk…

C, on the other hand, is stupid.

unless, apparantly, you actually have this situation come up and are some sort of corporate exec.

(fun fact: i read somewhere, a while ago, a little story, the gist of which was that in NZ, an executive who ran his company in the ground would be hard pressed getting employed as anything much for quite some time, being a failure, while in the states he’d be rehired really fast due to having ‘experiance’. it was Supposed to be a shot against the general attitude towards failure (and the tall poppy thing worked in there somewhere) here in NZ. but every time i see something like this, it reminds me of that and i think to myself ‘you know, that’s why our country is not as screwed up as the USA is economically.’ of course, then National and Act go and get in and do their level best to make our government and economy more american… and can’t even get that right. (Labour, on the other hand, prefer to do a bad job of imitating Finland or something…))

Di Fiasco says:

This just in: West Coast Custom has just been sued by Dodge for modifying a mini-van into something that people actually want to be seen driving…

Seriously though – how on God’s Earth did we end up in a legal environment where people are sued for modifying purchased goods. If I buy a phone, car, Buzz Lightyear, etc…it is MINE and I will do whatever I want with it even if it includes selling kits to others to do the same.

Mike Raffety (profile) says:

Selling replacement iPhone parts

If the kid was putting the Apple logo on parts that didn’t come from Apple, that’s clearly not going to fly, since there’s substantial likelihood of confusion, and an implied endorsement, at the least.

Since there’s no software involved in this, it sounds remarkably like the car companies’ ongoing efforts to prevent others from manufacturing cheaper replacement parts.

Here’s a recent article about just such an attempt in France:

http://www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.aspx?id=25172&deptid=7

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Irepairs.inc (profile) says:

Your devices do what you like with it ! Lol

Hey maybe if Apple would have a repair locations in the United States it would had stop people for looking Else where to get there devices fix or modified ,Apple always had a solution for this common problem, when people bring their devices that was open or modify by someone other then apple they lose their AppleCare or warranty! they won’t swap the phone they won’t fix the phone they won’t touch the phone, or any apple devices therefore it’s up to me to find someone to fix it the right way! We all know that the biggest gimmick is not to repair it is to swap it so they make another additional $ 150 or more lets be real I can buy a home flex ribbon that cost 1 Dollar and fix that problem ,apple swaps your device for $150 more or less and give you a refurbished one . Look it up see that is what got me into apple devices the need of real repairs and need of honest people y pay 150 when I can get my home button fix for $30 now that’s reasonable, I will continue to modify my device as much as I want , this product is mind and I can do whatever I want with it thanks you ! Dude it’s your device do what u like with it ! I change my back over 50 times and continued,

Irepairs.inc (profile) says:

Your devices do what you like with it ! Lol

Hey maybe if Apple would have a repair locations in the United States it would had stop people for looking Else where to get there devices fix or modified ,Apple always had a solution for this common problem, when people bring their devices that was open or modify by someone other then apple they lose their AppleCare or warranty! they won’t swap the phone they won’t fix the phone they won’t touch the phone, or any apple devices therefore it’s up to me to find someone to fix it the right way! We all know that the biggest gimmick is not to repair it is to swap it so they make another additional $ 150 or more lets be real I can buy a home flex ribbon that cost 1 Dollar and fix that problem ,apple swaps your device for $150 more or less and give you a refurbished one . Look it up see that is what got me into apple devices the need of real repairs and need of honest people y pay 150 when I can get my home button fix for $30 now that’s reasonable, I will continue to modify my device as much as I want , this product is mind and I can do whatever I want with it thanks you ! Dude it’s your device do what u like with it ! I change my back over 50 times and continued,

fjlksfdja says:

I think you’re missing out details. The kid is obviously selling counterfeit components with Apple logos on it. I.e. illegal. Do some research on Chinese coutnerfeiting operations and it’s a disgrace. They counterfeit everything from cars, KFC, clothes, all electronics and even cigarettes. Supposedly 1 in every 3 packs of cigarettes in the UK is a counterfeit. Where’s the harm in that you might say? The cigarettes are unregulated, some can contain upto 80% more nicotine, and they have even found traces of shit in them. Where is the harm in electronic components then? Besides the economic damage to the country of origin, these are manufactured so poorly you’re essentially just paying for inferior components with inferior performance, life expectancy and safety. A person recently bought a counterfeit Apple charger and was killed by it.

Yes I’m anti counterfeit but there is a reason. Look up lists of what China counterfeits and the damage it’s doing to US, Euro, Other countries economies and then you’ll agree with me.

Peter klaven says:

Suing for what helping people to get what they want in the cheapest form

I feel its not fair as you said earlier once you get a phone you’re the sole owner of the phone you’re allowed to do whatever you want to do with that . If you could repair iPhone’s easily ,Anyone would and not all of them have the ability to alter . http://www.drmobiles.co.nz/wel/Repair.html

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