Apple is back in legal hot water, only this time it's with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which is looking to throw the book at the technology giant for its potentially misleading claims about the third-generation iPad's 4G capabilities.
Apple's new iPad event held earlier this month
Apple's new iPad comes with the capability to connect to a long-term evolution (LTE) or "4G" networks in the 700MHz or 2100MHz spectrum band. Australia's only LTE network is currently provided by Telstra, which uses its former 2G spectrum band of 1800MHz.
As a result, Apple's third-generation iPad is currently unable to connect to a LTE network in Australia, making it a particular sticking point for Australia's peak consumer watchdog.
"The ACCC alleges that Apple's recent promotion of the new "iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G" is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product "iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G" can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case," the ACCC said in a statement this evening.
The ACCC will initiate court action against Apple in the Melbourne branch of the Federal Court tomorrow morning for alleged contraventions of sections 18, 29(1)(a), 29(1)(g) and 33 of the Australian Consumer Law.
Section 18 covers misleading and deceptive conduct, section 29 covers false or misleading representations about goods or services and section 33 covers misleading conduct as to the nature of goods.
The outcome of the case may be more than a simple slap on the wrist for the Cupertino-based company, with the ACCC seeking final orders including financial penalties, corrective advertising measures and a possible injunction on the device.
"The ACCC is seeking urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device," the ACCC said in a statement.
Some retailers are currently informing customers that the new iPad isn't capable of LTE connectivity by use of flyers in store, and some iPad boxes have stickers explaining that the LTE functionality will not work in Australia.
In the meantime, the ACCC is urging iPad buyers to make themselves aware of the device's local limitations.
"Consumers who have purchased or are considering purchasing an "iPad with WiFi + 4G" should ensure that they have a proper understanding of the mobile data networks which this iPad can directly access by a SIM card," the watchdog added.
Comment is being sought from Apple Australia.