Idiot Alert: Man sues Apple for ‘bricking’ iPhone


Where high profiles and high profits exist, so do the scum of the earth.

First, Dongmei Li sues Apple for $1 million for chopping $200 off the iPhone. Apparently the $200 she “lost” when Apple dropped the price is now worth 5,000 times what it was a month ago.

Now, Timoth Smith has filed a lawsuit against Apple for ‘bricking’ iPhones that have been unlocked. The ‘bricking’ he is referring to is in reference to an update Apple released that rendered many iPhones useless…specifically iPhones that had been hacked to work with other phone carriers.

His lawsuit ultimately asserts that since Apple refuses to let users use other carriers, they are able to charge more than they would had they “been in a competitive marketplace.” Smith says that as a result of this lack of competition he “paid too much for the iPhone.”

Mr. Smith, last I checked Apple in no way forced you to buy a single item from them. This is a free country and you made the choice to get out of bed, walk your sue-happy butt in to the Apple store and drop some cash on a new phone. You then go and hack it to use other phone carriers outside of who Apple says the phone will work with and now you’re ticked that your phone, gasp, doesn’t work? Get over yourself. Learn some self-control and don’t buy a phone that doesn’t do what you want it to do.


John Public

The US requires phones to be unlocked when you leave a carrier. That does include early termination.


I just bought this phone a week ago. loving it so far but the same issue, I wish it wasnt locked to just one network. The initial drop in price of the handset and forcing customers to be stuck with just one network isnt what a company like apply should be looking forward to.

Josh Pigford

Free man says:

Hey Josh Pigford, U learn up. U are the stupid here and not the person who filed a lawsuite.

So wat do u mean ?, you can give me your money and do what ever I say ? are you nuts ?

Thank you. I would agree that I are the stupid here. We should all file lawsuites and be nuts. :)

Free man

Hey Josh Pigford, U learn up. U are the stupid here and not the person who filed a lawsuite.

So wat do u mean ?, you can give me your money and do what ever I say ? are you nuts ?


Tony Steidler-Dennison you are right on the money. While it is common practice for wireless carriers to disable functions during the period that a phone is covered by an agreement, breaking the warranty on a hardware device and disabling it from further use for doing so runs very close to the antitrust line. It is analogous to a car manufacturer denying use of a car because an after market part was installed.

My bet is Apple and AT&T will relent or lose big. Personally, I wouldn’t touch an iPhone until this issue is resolved.


If you own Apple and/or AT&T stock, wouldn’t you want them to maintain their strangle hold? If M$ can do it, why not Apple?

Jan Cornelius

The only idiot alert here is for yourself ….

Mark my words this case, which is a well thought out one, will eventually lead to to Apple having to “unlock” maybe not next month, but give it time. The guy knows what he’s doing. Apple will of seen this coming and is looking at a time frame of 1-2 years, within which they will off made the profit work for them.

The guy starting the suit is just a front, figure out the legal expenses in such a case, who do you is paying? … think of the current lobby on this matter ….


thank you tony for so eloquently stating exactly all i’d intended to say.

and josh–i’ll apologize for calling you pathetic when you apologize for calling the litigant and idiot.

Tony Steidler-Dennison

The facts on this aren’t as cut-and-dried as everyone would like to pretend.

For the first two months of the iPhone, Apple did nothing and made no public comment regarding hacking the phone. Surely, their skilled legal department understood what was going on within the user community. They also had to understand the implications of their own silence on the issue: that Apple was quietly endorsing those activities. They took no affirmative action to warn users of the likelihood that the phones would be bricked by a subsequent update.

That they waited until just a few days before the 1.1.1 update to take that action is, at best, irresponsible. Further, the warning was pretty ambiguous. “Could” and “might” render the phones inoperable were the critical words. I don’t think there’s much doubt that they *knew* it would brick a percentage.

I’ll grant that unlocking the phones is not, in my opinion, the smartest thing to do. That’s an activity that probably put Apple at risk of litigation from AT&T. Installing third-party apps, however, has never been a violation of a hardware warranty. And, even violations of a warranty have never given the hardware manufacturer the right to render the purchased equipment inoperable.

So, Apple screwed up in three ways: a) by not affirmatively discouraging (either in writing or verbally) hacking, b) by not allowing a sufficient period of time to correct the hacks they knew existed before delivering the 1.1.1 update, and c) by damaging or rendering inoperable third-party software that’s clearly allowed on any other hardware device.

I don’t think anyone, when they think about it, really likes the precedent this sets. A manufacturer is free to define their warranty terms in a way that best suits their business interests. Consumers are free to accept or reject that warranty, but not to negotiate it. Under those terms, Apple should be free to void the warranty on any phone hacked to work with other networks – it’s in their business interest to do so – but not to destroy the devices that are owned by the consumer.

Unfortunately, the way these things get worked out in the US is in the courts. Apple appears determined, by their actions, to expand manufacturers’ rights to include permanently disabling a modified device (a device now owned by the consumer), even when they already have the right to void the warranty and be done with it. That doesn’t bode well for any of us, Apple consumers all. Would it be okay if, when you installed the custom pipes on that new Mini Cooper, BMW came and stole the engine, even when they already had the right to void the warranty? Far-fetched, maybe. But the analogy matches the expansion of manufacturers’ rights (at the expense of consumer rights) that Apple’s action seems to lead. The courts are the way that expansion is contained – for all of us.

Matt Radel

And where does Apple get the cash to fight off these sue happy pricks? From the consumers. Do you think Apple will sit back and just lose that cash? Of course not. They’ll inflate the prices of their products to compensate.

Thanks a lot, sue mongers.


Please fill me in…

When these sue happy morons are done trying to get their millions for being stupid, will they have to pay Apple’s court expenses? How does that work?

Phil Bowell

I think there is one thing which people seem to be forgetting here. At no point did Apple FORCE anyone to take the update. Before the update was rolled out they stated clearly that it may break some hacked phones and that hacked phones should be updated at the users risk. It’s not a forced update, if you choose to break the warranty and agreement you entered when you bought the phone, then thats your choice and no one else’s.

At the end of the day, if you don’t like the conditions that come with a product, then don’t buy it!


Josh got out of bed the wrong side today. I know this is a technically a blog, so therefore it’s your soapbox. but man, cool down a bit. Let the man bring his suit. What difference does it make to you? Either way, win or lose, not only does it help to develop legal boundaries with the big tech companies increasingly trying to threaten our digital rights and what-not, but it’s also somewhat entertaining…


@Josh Pigford: Well, common sense also dictates that Apple knowing as they knew that there were people around modifying their phones could had easily added a baseband checksum on the firmware update and refuse to update the modified phones in order to protect the consumer and themselves from this, instead they decided to go the whole way and brick people phones, was this done as a hostile act? Surely not, but still it was not a smart move.
The thing is that the case as Dvorak says “has teeth” because Apple have been walking on the razor’s edge on this matter and this can easily backfire on them. In my personal opinion (and being an Apple stockholder myself) I think that this is neither in benefit of the stockholders nor the consumers and Apple deserves to have the book threw at them for this poor decision making.


Hmmm, any chance that I could sue 1ski or his orthodoxanarchist site for the above ‘contributions’ …? Let me see …. “mental anguish through faulty reasoning”, penalty tripled by repeated returns to site after stated intention to stop reading (and, by implication, ranting) … that must be worth $1m … pass me the phone! (No, not that iPhone thingy …)

Dave E

@1ski: Wow… You come to a blog article, call the author pathetic, and expect him to just sit back and take it. Forgive me for being crude, but good riddance.


did you hear that sound? that was the sound of me clicking unsubscribe in my feed reader.

Josh Pigford

a couple of weeks ago you said apple’s tactic was bullish and that they weren’t playing nice. this week you’re attacking people for pushing back against apple for breaking their phones.

You’re having trouble separating opinion and business. I have never made any statement about Apple’s tactics not being a bit bullish. I think it’s lame for Apple to not open up the iPhone for easier development and to other carriers. But my opinion has nothing to do with the absurdity of the reasoning behind these two people’s lawsuit.

As for it being “bad form” to respond to you…welcome to TAB. All of the authors (myself included) gladly respond to comments and we won’t always agree with being called “pathetic.” This is an interactive site and I have no intention of just sitting back and letting it run itself. I enjoy having conversations like this and I apologize if you’ve been burned by such interaction in the past. It’s worked quite well for us for the past 3 years.


a couple of weeks ago you said apple’s tactic was bullish and that they weren’t playing nice. this week you’re attacking people for pushing back against apple for breaking their phones.

imagine you bought a desktop pc and you swapped out the hard drive effectively violating the manufacturer’s warranty. a week later, the manufacturer pushes out a firmware update that permanently disables your pc because they detected that you violated their warranty.

imagine this happening on every single piece of hardware you own — like your car, for instance: supe that sucker up, and the manufacturer pushes out firmware that disables the car’s computer rendering it useless.

for one thing, say goodbye to innovation. for another, say goodbye to fair use.

this behavior with the iphone is the same sort of issue critics of microsoft rage about when talking about hardware fingerprinting and visa, and the ability for software and hardware manufacturers to disable and delete their competitors products of your pc.

the is apple crossing the line in a big way, and lawsuits and more specifically case law are the manner in which precedence is set for what corporations may and may not get away with.

that’s not this guy’s fault — that’s the legal system’s fault for being structured in such a way that the courts become the interpreters of the law.

and btw-it’s bad form for a blogger to respond to a critic in such a way. trust me, i learned that the hard way.

Josh Pigford

@1ski: Not that you’ll read this comment since you don’t read this site anymore, but first, thanks for calling me pathetic and somehow asserting from a single article that I have an “affinity for corporation.” You’ve definitely given your comment a good bit of credibility with that. :)

Now, on to my reply to your comment.

Remind me how Apple not letting people hack the iPhone inherently makes it okay for people to sue them? I’m pretty sure those two have nothing to do with one another.

Maybe you’re not from America or maybe you’re just blind to the trend that has existed here for the past decade or so…but people will sue companies for anything. Tell me how on earth it’s okay for a woman to sue Apple for $1 million because they reduced the price of their product by $200. Tell me how on earth it’s okay for a man to sue Apple because he’s upset he broke the warranty on his phone. I would genuinely love to hear some logical reasoning behind that.


wow. the whole reason apple exists today is hacker innovation. to punish people for hacking their legally purchased equipment… sheer hypocrisy.

seriously, i like my mac. but with every greater move to lockdown their equipment and lockout their customers, i am hating apple corp. more and more.

and for being a pathetic apple fanboy blinded by his affinity for a corporation clearly abandoning its commitment to its customers, you’ve just lost a reader.

John Smith

Come on, it is the iPhone. It is intended to do everything a phone shouldn’t do. and i’m sure if you brought it to apple and played stupid they would give you another.

Josh Pigford

@lynxman: Since when do “silly moves” warrant a lawsuit? This article isn’t about legalities, it’s about common sense and the stupidity of the people spewing these things out.


Quite a naive article, he has a point to present a class action lawsuit, bricking phones is quite a silly move on Apple’s part and they exposed themselves to this class of action.

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