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Judge calls Apple ads for Siri “mere puffery,” throws out lawsuit for good

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Customers who sued Apple over the disappointing performance of their iPhone’s personal assistant, Siri, are out of luck after a federal judge concluded they didn’t show fraud or breach or warranty.

In a decision issued Friday in Oakland, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken said Apple’s marketing descriptions of Siri as “the coolest feature,” a “breakthrough” and “an intelligent personal assistant” were just “puffery” and could not be grounds for a lawsuit.

The ruling is likely the end of the road for phone owner who claimed they had shelled out extra money to obtain the iPhone 4S after seeing commercials like “Siri, Snow Today” that showed the Apple gadget consistently answering questions about the weather, music and more.

In reality, Siri did not work out that way. The customers in the lawsuit say Siri could not answer questions like “How do you play a B minor chord” or “When is St. Patrick’s Day,” and that the device instead paused before answering “I don’t understand.”

According to Judge Wilken, the customers could not point to an Apple statement that was specific enough for the company to be able to respond to a fraud claim. She refused to accept that Siri’s performance in the ads meant Apple had to defend a claim over “consistent” performance.

The judge’s reference to “mere puffery” has been used by courts for over a century to reject false advertising and breach of contract suits.

The judge concluded the ruling by saying that the customers could not amend their complaint for a fourth time, meaning their only option is to appeal to a higher court.

Here’s a copy of the ruling, spotted by AppleInsider, with some of the relevant bits underlined:

Apple Siri Dismissal

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13 Responses to “Judge calls Apple ads for Siri “mere puffery,” throws out lawsuit for good”

  1. Siri left beta with iOS 7, actually. I don’t own an iPhone nowadays, but here’s what I used it for:

    -launching apps
    -phone calls
    -setting reminders
    -setting appointments
    -occasional voice dictation
    -asking for directions
    -the Googles :p
    -weather forecasting

    So, you know, pretty dang useful. Wish it was handsfree like Google Now on GEL is, but holding down a button never wrecked my day.

  2. [anonymous]

    Siri did something in one of her old ads that looked like extreme foreshadowing of a new feature if not actually showing an unreleased alpha of it. It was one of the Siri celebrity commercials back during the time that the 4S was the flagship. I can’t remember the star’s name (not good with names or pop culture). Anyway, he is in the car an keeps telling Siri things like “you’re goin’ places!” He then asked Siri though for a brief 2-3 second in the commercial something like “Hey. [looks out the car window] Was that Rick? Siri, find Rick.” to which Siri hastily responds with a Find My Friends widget with a Map and location saying “Here’s Rick”. Did this feature not make the cut? Find My Friends is a third-party app (despite being made by Apple, it’s not preinstalled”. I don’t recall Siri being able to integrate so tightly with any App Store apps beyond Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Fandango.

  3. Prasad Tiruvalluri

    I keep hearing Apple is never the first to market but always the best as it is perfects everything before coming to the market. Looks like that part is also Puffery..

  4. rottenbittenfruit

    Siri couldn’t answer, “When is St. Patrick’s Day?”. So what? I’m sure they’re are plenty of Irish people who can’t answer that question. Seriously, who gives a damn and why would anyone need to sue over something that unimportant? Maybe if Siri couldn’t respond to “Dial 911” it might be something worthwhile to pursue but having to know holidays seems pretty low on a list of demands.