Apple Sued An Independent Norwegian Repair Shop In Bid To Monopolize Repair — And Lost

from the high-horse dept

A few years ago, annoyance at John Deere’s obnoxious tractor DRM birthed a grassroots tech movement. John Deere’s decision to implement a lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops), they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other rabble rousers.

Apple’s efforts in particular to monopolize repair run deep. The company has worked alongside the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to seize counterfeit parts in the United States and raid shops of independent iPhone repair professionals. FOIA efforts to obtain details on just how deeply rooted Apple is in ICE’s “Operation Chain Reaction” have been rejected. The efforts to “combat counterfeit goods” often obscures what this is really about for Apple: protecting a lucrative repair monopoly and thwarting anybody that might dare repair Apple devices for less money.

And Apple’s efforts on this front are a decidedly global affair. More recently, Apple has been harassing an independent repair shop owner in Norway named Henrik Huseby. After Norway customs officials seized a shipment of 63 iPhone 6 and 6S replacement screens on their way to Huseby’s repair shop, Apple threatened to sue the store owner unless they agreed to stop using aftermarket screens and pay a hefty settlement:

“In order to avoid being sued, Apple asked Huseby for ?copies of invoices, product lists, order forms, payment information, prints from the internet and other relevant material regarding the purchase [of screens], including copies of any correspondence with the supplier ? we reserve the right to request further documentation at a later date.”

The letter, sent by Frank Jorgensen, an attorney at the Njord law firm on behalf of Apple, included a settlement agreement that also notified him the screens would be destroyed. The settlement agreement said that Huseby agrees ?not to manufacture, import, sell, market, or otherwise deal with any products that infringe Apple?s trademarks,? and asked required him to pay 27,700 Norwegian Krone ($3,566) to make the problem go away without a trial.”

How sweet. Huseby decided to fight the case, and despite being out-manned five Apple lawyers to one, managed to win. And despite Apple’s ongoing claims that it’s simply engaged in a moral crusade against counterfeiters, Huseby’s lawyer is quick to reiterate what Apple’s methods are really all about:

“In this case, Apple indirectly proves what they really want,? Per Harald Gjerstad, Huseby?s lawyer, told me in an email. ?They want monopoly on repairs so they can keep high prices. And they therefore do not want to sell spare parts to anyone other than ?to themselves.?”

Apple’s real motivation is the protection of their lucrative repair monopoly enjoyed thanks to their “Authorized Service Provider” program, which requires that repair companies become authorized by paying Apple a fee, only buy “authorized” repair parts from Apple at a fixed rate, and limits what repairs a third-party vendor can actually perform. Meanwhile, Apple continues to lobby against right to repair laws in 18 states around the United States, all of which require hardware vendors sell replacement parts and repair tools to the general public and independent repair companies.

Ironically, the harder Apple and other companies fight against this trend, the more support they drive toward these right to repair bills.

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Comments on “Apple Sued An Independent Norwegian Repair Shop In Bid To Monopolize Repair — And Lost”

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MathFox says:

Re: Sorry Karl,

If you look at it from the legal side, Apple might be running a franchise for its repairs. A lucrative franchise indeed if you can force the repair-shops to pay (yearly) fees, buy spare parts only from you and you set the consumer prices for the repairs.
Of course making repairs expensive is good for sales of new products… so Apple has several good reasons for its anti-competitive behaviour.

MathFox says:

Re: Re: good things pass.

Well Woz left, Jobs was ousted, returned and passed away. Woz was the Apple hacker, Jobs was more involved with design (and did a great job there).
Apple makes some good products, but for me, I don’t like to pay to be allowed to play in some manufacturer’s walled garden.

bob says:

Re: Re: Re: good things pass.

Really Apple has just been re-inventing their iPod year after year. (adding video, touch screen, then the ability to make calls, etc.)

Their laptops are overpriced and nothing special. The only reason Apples products are viable is because they have ravenous fanboys that will buy anything if it is shiny and made by Apple. Oh, and because they have a closed platform so they can control what hardware works with their equipment.

I will give you that the design is smoother and feels less clunky than other systems but since I like playing games I would prefer to have a more powerful system for the price of an Apple system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dang, out_of_the_blue's not going to like this, is he?

For anyone new here (which I doubt there is!): out_of_the_blue is a screen name that hasn’t been used since 2014, but which the fanboys still regard with fear and awe. — Because out_of_the_blue didn’t enagage in childish ad hom back and forth, but unarguable bullet-pointed views:

“out_of_the_blue” has been mentioned at least three times today! Because the fanboys need a target for ad hom, they’ve nothing on topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

but are Apple "counterfeit" parts necessarily counterfeit?

Since Apple Computer does not own the factories that make iPhone parts, and insteads contracts with independent manufacturers such as Foxconn, there’s obviously a financial incentive for these companies (or even sneaky employees) to “double dip” and sell their excess production of parts on the gray market. Which could result in official Apple parts and “counterfeit” aftermarket parts being identical since they both came off the same assembly line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: but are Apple "counterfeit" parts necessarily counterfeit?

according to louis rossman they are refurbished parts.

Apple screen glass breaks but display is still good. Repair shop sends these screens to china and has the glass replaced creating a refurbished part. Repair shop gets back Apple screen with Apple part numbers so phone can’t be bricked by Apple latter with update like they did with fingerprint scanners.

psychedelic (profile) says:


You definitely should point out the Tor. Tor is software that creates a proxy to various Tor servers. those servers use cryptography to create ahead secrecy among routers. Your records is bounced through a chain of routers and subsequently is routed to its destination. The cease connection handiest sees the closing router facts. The Tor network consists of servers in many exceptional nations, lots of which have stricter privacy legal guidelines.

Anonymous Coward says:

As for the “right to repair” laws, I would propose one more – requiring OEM service & repair manuals to be made available to the public, instead of just the official warranty repair shops. That should have been done a hundred plus years ago. (fortunately public libraries were not prohibited from having these books, even if commercial bookstores were)

trollificus (profile) says:

My very first computer (a 386 that leapfrogged my computer mentors’ model! “Why do you need 24 megs of RAM, man?”), I remmed out the ‘win’ command in the startup bat file and ran it from a command line because I liked feeling that I was more into the guts of the machine.

So, after hearing how evil Micro$oft was, I checked into Apple…and found I couldn’t even do THAT? Couldn’t build my own (which I did with my second and all subsequent computers for many years)? Screw that. I could deal with ‘evil’, didn’t even have any interest in “proprietary”. Screw Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My very first computer (a 386 that leapfrogged my computer mentors’ model! "Why do you need 24 megs of RAM, man?"), I remmed out the ‘win’ command in the startup bat file and ran it from a command line because I liked feeling that I was more into the guts of the machine.

So, after hearing how evil Micro$oft was, I checked into Apple…and found I couldn’t even do THAT?

You…do realize that you can’t do that in an MS operating system anymore either, right?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Fair enough. (That was me; forgot to put my name on it. At least, I assume you’re replying to my post; I’ve got anons blocked, so I can’t actually see the post you’re responding to.)

I don’t know how important the distinction between booting to a command line and opening a command line inside a graphical environment is, really. I’m a Linux user, and I’m perfectly comfortable in a terminal, but if I’m actually dropping to a VT (as opposed to opening a Terminal app inside X), then it means Something Has Gone Wrong.

There are a lot of reasons I prefer not to use MacOS or Windows. But "because if I want to use a terminal I have to open it in a window" isn’t one of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That question was answered for many people many years ago when Windows first came out, and Microsoft insisted that legacy DOS programs could be run inside a window, which people quickly discovered was not quite true. The same broken promises were made for every new iteration of Windows.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You can build your own Apple-compatible machine. You just have to use specific parts because OSX doesn’t carry drivers for All The Things like Windows does (or supports). It’s not that their machines are a "walled garden", they just focussed on supporting specific hardware very well rather than trying to support everything poorly.

I’m no Apple fanboi (I use both Windows and OSX daily) but your talking point is flawed. Both have their pros and cons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Doesn’t their OS license agreement state that the OS can only be installed on Apple approved systems/configurations? So basically you found apple compatible parts that apple originally manufactured for use in their closed system. So you bought an apple computer and had them customize a few parts, okay.

Apple has always let customers choose their own cover color, as long as the choice was white.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If they really cared about the end users, as they claim, wouldn’t they stop the ‘fake’ products at the source & offer information so repair people could spot ‘dangerous’ fakes?

In any of the states where Apple is fighting the law. just bring up the battery thing.
We made the machine secretly work WORSE, b/c we were getting a huge amount of money replacing a battery & it drove sales of the newest iThingy.
When this was made public, suddenly they started back peddling said they would be honest about what was happening… oh and the price to replace the battery was slashed down to about twice what you’d pay online to get one. Their costs to get the battery didn’t sudden magically change, the effort to get into the iThingy didn’t get easier, changing the connection didn’t get easier… but somehow they were able to slash their very high price down to an almost reasonable number.
This wasn’t from some heartfelt gesture, this was trying to deal with the PR nightmare that they made older phones work worse (so they would keep working!!) & they were charging a huge amount to replace the battery & nudge people towards the latest new shiny thing…. that secretly would do the same thing if not for some evil bastard opening up their phone & finding out what the hell was going on.

Anonymous Coward says:

simple solution: revoke the Apple trademark (yes, really)

there should be a simple law for this: if you use the trademark as a bludgeon to prevent 3rd party repairs then you automatically LOSE the rights to that trademark.

Your lawyer sends a snot-o-gram about not being allowed by their trademark to repair a device that i own? Their trademark should just go *poof*. Worldwide.

when the customer clearly knows that he’s buying a 3rd party replacement part that conforms to all specs for that part and the manufacturer clearly markets such parts as 3rd party replacement parts and you still persist, then you don’t deserve to have a trademark in the first place. What you really want/need are handcuffs.

The purpose of the trademark system is to clearly mark the source ORIGIN of a product/service for customers to make an INFORMED decision, not to prevent others from making available similar or compatible products/services when they are clearly labelled as being 3rd party ones.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Trademark abuse

When governments care to protect public interests (including consumer interests) then it might create a watchdog institution to look for abuse of trademarks (or abuse of other IP laws) of which there are plenty, the current incident showing one of them.

Right now, companies have found that it’s more profitable contesting laws than adjusting their services to conform to consumer protections, so they do the former.

In the US, regulatory capture is epidemic. I don’t know the case in Norway.

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