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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  1.  
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    Benjamin (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    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.

     

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  2.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    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)

     

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  3.  
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    Thanatossassin (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    What about parts that just look similar to the iphone's, like the metal back iphone seen here? I'd have to expect Apple to sue them as well.

    http://www.unplggd.com/unplggd/how-to/add-a-metal-back-to-your-iphone-4-129754

     

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  4.  
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    PRMan, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Repair Steve Jobs

    God is going to sue Steve Jobs for trying to repair his body. (sarc)

    One of the largest businesses in the world is auto replacement parts. Give it up Steve...

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    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.

     

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  7.  
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    Pitabred (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    Re:

    I'd guess that's completely illegal, due to trademark infringement. If Apple knew about it, they'd stop it ;) It's just that this kid is in the US and easier to access via the legal system than some side-market in China.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re:

    This would only be true if the parts were embossed with Apples logo, but I can't see copyright / perhaps trademark? Maybe they are trying to set an example of this kid and get and end run at the Chinese manuf. that was supplying the parts.

     

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  9.  
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    TheStupidOne, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    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

     

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  10.  
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    Greg G (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Rotten Apple

    With all of this crap we keep hearing...

    The Apple is rotten. Stop eating it!

     

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    That Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    I thought I had just read the case was dropped.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/27/white-iphone-lawsuit_n_868187.html

    Or is it back on now because the kid talked to the media?

     

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    HothMonster, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    princefeliz (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    Apple sues teen

    And some of you keep consuming this company's products! Go figure.

     

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  14.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 3:12pm

    Re:

    So much for copyright and patents spurring innovation. If that isn't a nail in the coffin, I don't know what is.

     

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  15.  
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    twilson, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Why are people standing up for the kid?

    He was selling parts manufactured UNDER CONTRACT by Foxconn FOR APPLE. It's at the very simplest, theft?

    "Enterprising", what an interesting choice of words, considering the circumstances. Just call it what it is "handling stolen goods".

     

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  16.  
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    maxnicks, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re:

    @DannyB

    Are you just stupid or what? Modifying Apple's property? I bought the phone making MY property. It's no different that Chevrolet trying to sue me because I painted my car a color they didn't like.

    You need to go back to your desk at Apple and quit posting crap.

     

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  17.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Whooooooooosh

     

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  18.  
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    Matthew Krum, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Woz Bought One

     

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  19.  
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    William, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, He's not stupid. But apparently your sarcasm meter is broken.

     

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  20.  
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    khory (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Why are people standing up for the kid?

    I have to agree. The kid knew his part supply was of questionable origins.

    After the media attention he had to see this coming.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    The mafia used to do this too

    You can make a lot of money stealing parts and selling them at cut rate prices.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Why are people standing up for the kid?

    The kid didn't steal. He purchased. This is FoxConn's bad, and the crime is contract violation.

     

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  23.  
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    Donnicton, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:48pm

    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.

     

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  24.  
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    That Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    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.

     

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  25.  
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    MrWilson, May 31st, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not even his sarcasm meter. His reading comprehension device is broken.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: Why are people standing up for the kid?

    "It fell of the back of a Foxconn truck," wouldn't ever fly in court.

     

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  27.  
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    Jesse Jenkins, May 31st, 2011 @ 5:50pm

    If you can't modify it, you don't own it

    My wife and I have identical Weight Watcher point plus calculator. She marked the back of hers with a red nail polish splotch, so we can tell "whose is whose" - as if it matters. Nonetheless, this is along those lines . . . duh!

    If you can't modify it, you don't own it!

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 6:08pm

    If I understand this correctly, the kid was selling kits bearing the Apple logo.

    Don't know why some here want to beat up on Apple just because it takes issue with the use of its logo by an unrelated third party.

     

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  29.  
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    Christopher (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why are people standing up for the kid?

    The argument "I bought this straight from FoxConn and it was their bad for selling it to me!" would however.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    Re:

    Aside from the logo-ing, though, what was Apple losing here? Money from something they weren't making or selling? They could've wiped this kid out of the market if they just...took a lesson from him.

    Meh, seems like Apple overkilling.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 9:18pm

    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.

     

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  32.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 31st, 2011 @ 9:23pm

    Re: He was selling parts manufactured UNDER CONTRACT by Foxconn FOR APPLE. It's at the very simplest, theft?

    Did Apple pay for those parts?

    If not, they donít belong to Apple.

     

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  33.  
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    Ryan Diederich, May 31st, 2011 @ 10:15pm

    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.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2011 @ 10:24pm

    Pop quiz!
    Someone is selling "conversion kits" to recolor your product. Do you:

    A. Announce that tampering with your product will void any warranties, and urge consumers to be cautious.
    B. Release your own recolored version, which will sell by the truckload to rabid fans.
    C. Sue.

     

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  35.  
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    mike allen (profile), May 31st, 2011 @ 11:06pm

    mmm interesting idea may take it up if the kid goes down message to apple before you start you and the court STICK IT UP YOUR ASS.

     

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  36.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:23am

    Re:

    A and C, because B gives no money to the lawyers.

     

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  37.  
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    Di Fiasco, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 1:07am

    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.

     

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  38.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    what's happening here, i think, is that everyone's so used to corporations being arseholes about trademarks in ways that have nothing to do with the law and make no sense, that it's become inconceivable that an actual legitimate violation might actually have happened, ever :D

     

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  39.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:36am

    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?)

     

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  40.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:54am

    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...))

     

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  41.  
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    NullOp, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Figures...

    This is one of the reasons I consider Apple a bad actor in the corporate world. They want to have their cake and eat it too or, to be more exact, they want to sell you their stuff but retain ownership rights.

     

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  42.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

     

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  43.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I was stupid enough to say: today it's sarcasm, tomorrow reality.

     

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  44.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is it no longer a genuine iPhone because it is white?

     

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  45.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 8:51am

    Re: Legit Trademark Claim

    If they were actual Apple replacement parts from the factory where Apple gets their parts, and just not intended for import to the US, that would get very gray. I don't know if that's the case though. (no pun intended)

     

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  46.  
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    Mike Raffety (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    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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  47.  
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    DIRTNASTY (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 5:00pm

    Re: White iphone

     

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  48.  
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    DIRTNASTY (profile), Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: White iphone

    Apple is like the CALIFORNIA of tech companies. 1) Waaay over priced.
    2) Unfriendly business model.
    3) Basically tells residents/customers if you have a problem with us, take your money somewhere else.

     

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  49.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Professor Frink: (With sarcasm detector) Are you kidding? This baby is off he charts; mm-hai.

     

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  50.  
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    uswah, Jun 11th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    re

    thanks for sharing

     

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  51.  
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    Tony Evand, Jul 12th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

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

    Its not Apples property - if you purchased it outright its yours!

     

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  52.  
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    michellecurt, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 10:37pm

    apple repairs

    Its not a apple but its relevant to the I pad or I phone which is also called Mini computer so share correct info thanks..

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Ben Peng, Oct 14th, 2011 @ 8:21pm

    Provide iphone accessory and spare parts

    Dear sir
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  54.  
    identicon
    Edward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 1:44am

    Accessories and spare parts for apple products ,competitive price ,high qulity

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  55.  
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    mary, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 2:01am

    cell phone repair

    I have to agree. How I wish i have tis kind of Phone.Let me just share this iPhone repair site http://cellphonerepairsanjose.com

     

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  56.  
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    mary williams, Jul 23rd, 2012 @ 5:49am

    cellphone repair

    I keep hearing with all this crap. http://iphonerepairsanjose.com Try visiting this site.

     

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  57.  
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    Shaun, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:25am

    Re: Re:

    It's not Apples property once you purchase it. You are allowed to make changes to your own property as long as your not violating any FCC laws.

     

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  58.  
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    Guy, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re:

    That's software not hardware.

     

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  59.  
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    Guy, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    That's software not hardware.

     

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  60.  
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    stevenadam, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 3:35am

    iPad repair

    I feels to be messy when the iPhone does not work.So friends now are the days gone to panic.Get your iPhone repaired in just 1 day.Follow the link:http://www.liquidelectronics.ca/

     

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  61.  
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    iPhone Repair, May 23rd, 2013 @ 7:57pm

    Bad Luck

    It seems like that teen got some bad luck with Apple suing him. It also seems like he was made an example of, so that others who wanted to modify the iPhone would think twice about it. I don't know if that makes it right or wrong, but I feel bad for that poor guy.

     

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  62.  
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    Irepairs.inc (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    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,

     

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  63.  
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    Irepairs.inc (profile), Jun 6th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    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,

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Mpundits, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 2:43am

    What about parts that just look similar to the iphone's, like the white iphone seen here? I'd have to expect Apple to sue them as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    fjlksfdja, Sep 21st, 2013 @ 7:44pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    best nokia phone, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 3:08am

    Nice info

    Nokia lumia 820
    It's always better when everyone is smiling.

    With Smart Shoot, just one click of the camera takes a whole series of photos. Then merge them into one, so everyone in the group looks their best. Eyes open, big smiles, perfect sho

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Mansfiendiphonerepairs.com, Oct 27th, 2013 @ 11:31pm

    Hello,

    Great post. There are so many iPhone repair center in the market. Thanks to sharing it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    janequads, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 9:17pm

    iPhone is most costlier phones and it is most rarely sold one because of its high price.Good Post! Since iPhone is that costlier but there are many repair centres.Thanks for sharing...

    iphone repair auckland

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    amine, Mar 2nd, 2014 @ 1:49am

    thanks

    thanks you for this article

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    william, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Beware

    As I understood, they are kids being sued by the Apple company. We cannot put all the blame to kids for their wrong doing. Parents must be responsible for whatever happens to their child. Since they are kids parental guidance is important. For this, you might need seo wholesalers to let parents out there discuss this issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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