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Apple files, dismisses suit against teenager who sold white iPhone 4 kits

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
The teenage boy who runs an online business selling white iPhone 4 conversion kits has been hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit from Apple, though the company also filed a simultaneous request for dismissal.

Filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Apple's complaint comes against Fei Lik "Phillip" Lam and his parents, Yuk Lam and Dunwah Lam. Their son created the website "whiteiphone4now.com," where he sold tools and materials that allowed customers to modify a black iPhone 4 and make it white.

The site has been offline since Apple issued a cease-and-desist letter on Dec. 1, 2010. Prior to that, Lam's service served a niche of enthusiasts who wanted to have Apple's long-delayed white iPhone 4 but could not yet buy it. The need for such extraordinary measures became largely negated last month when, after months of delays due to production issues, Apple finally began to sell the white iPhone 4.

But as noted by MacRumors, Apple also filed for a voluntary dismissal at the same time. That has led to speculation that Apple and the Lam family may have reached a settlement out of court. Apple's dismissal gives the company the right to refile the claim if it so chooses, leaving Lam potentially on the hook again.

The complaint accuses Lam of "infringing and diluting Apple's famous trademarks" through the sale of his conversion kits, which included parts obtained from Apple's overseas manufacturing partners. The kits included white front and black panels branded with the Apple logo and iPhone trademarks.

Apple's lawsuit states that Lam obtained the parts from an "unauthorized supplier in Shenzhen Province int he People's Republic of China." This "supplier" bought the white panels from shops on the streets of Shenzhen, and Apple argues that Lam "knew" where the parts came from.

Lam is alleged to have contacted Alan Yang of Shenzhen, who operates the business "Focusupply." Apple claims to have obtained an instant message conversation between Yang and Lam, in which Yang said his company had a "friend" at manufacturing company Foxconn.



"Defendant at all times knew that Apple has never authorized the sale of white panels for its iPhone 4 mobile devices, and that he obtained these parts from sources that were not authorized by Apple or any of its suppliers to sell them," the complaint reads.

Lam's parents are included in the complaint, as Apple believes they "aided and abetted" their son, who was a minor when the alleged trademark infringement occurred. Apple seeks to recover damages, including the "illegal profits" Lam obtained from his online business, which were reportedly more than $130,000 as of November 2010.



It was last fall when Lam first gained attention for making six figures from buying white iPhone 4 replacement parts from overseas, and building his own models of Apple's smartphone. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also built his own white iPhone 4 using parts obtained from overseas, though he did not make a business out of selling them like Lam.
post #2 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Suing little kids and their parents for doing the job you couldn't figure out how to do?

Perhaps Steve Jobs has been spending too much time hanging out with music execs?

First off, that post is funny as hell.

Secondly, you need to "protect" your intellectual property, or risk losing you trademarks and patents, so they sort of had to sue, even if they always intended on dropping the suit.
post #3 of 49
Lam is clearly in the wrong even if we ignore the potential of Philip and his parents knowing these parts were illegally obtained from someone working at Foxconn. Imagine if Apple let anyone in any country sell stolen or trademark infringing products. Their business and name would be severely hindered. I think they could even lose their right to their trademark if they didn’t try to protect it.

That said, I can’t help but give this kid some cheers for his entrepreneurship and do hope that he got to keep some of the money he made.

PS: DIdn’t Steve Wozniak buy such a kit? Was it not from this seller?

PPS: Please don’t feed the trolls.
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post #4 of 49
Apple wasn't selling the cases for a reason: they negatively effected performance. Apple also presumably owned the white cases it decided not to use. The cases probably were supposed to be destroyed. So, if it was the actual white cases intended to be used in iPhones, the kid was essentially selling Apple property.
post #5 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Apple wasn't selling the cases for a reason: they negatively effected performance.

Youll best clarify that before you get a rush of people claiming that a different piece of glass doesnt change how fast the processor runs.
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post #6 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyTed View Post

First off, that post is funny as hell.

Secondly, you need to "protect" your intellectual property, or risk losing you trademarks and patents, so they sort of had to sue, even if they always intended on dropping the suit.

The kid complied already with the letter to stop selling this is just creepy corporate thuggery, i hope apple's bad karma comes back on them.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffjumper68 View Post

The kid complied already with the letter to stop selling this is just creepy corporate thuggery, i hope apple's bad karma comes back on them.

Actually, it’s not. 1) The lawsuit and dismissal is to protect Apple in case Lam decides to use his Chinese contacts to sell such items in the future. 2) It’s "par for the course” to expect Apple gets a large portion of his profits to prevent others who think they can make a quick buck flying under the radar and then get off scott free simply by closing shop.
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post #8 of 49
Vigorous defence of trademarks, done.

Time to move on, also done.
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post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Lam is clearly in the wrong even if we ignore the potential of Philip and his parents knowing these parts were illegally obtained from someone working at Foxconn. Imagine if Apple let anyone in any country sell stolen or trademark infringing products. Their business and name would be severely hindered. I think they could even lose their right to their trademark if they didnt try to protect it.

That said, I cant help but give this kid some cheers for his entrepreneurship and do hope that he got to keep some of the money he made.

PS: DIdnt Steve Wozniak buy such a kit? Was it not from this seller?

PPS: Please dont feed the trolls.

Whether it's a teenager, or a full-blown operation like Psystar, you let one person pass through the door, next thing you have is everyone is doing it. Apple has to do this otherwise they risk a floodgate opening. Gotta give the kid credit where due, but he pushed his luck.

I do believe the Woz did buy his white kit that way, and even he admitted that the camera-quality sucked due to light leakage. Which means Apple had to do something to stop this. Next thing you know, those that did decide to do it would b!tch to Apple about their camera not working right.

As far as trolls go, looks like Techstud or one of his lapdogs is back at it again.
post #10 of 49
Wasn't the rumor that the white glass somehow effected the performance of the camera so that it didn't work? The rumor was the white glass was letting light bleed through the body of phone. Makes sense if true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Youll best clarify that before you get a rush of people claiming that a different piece of glass doesnt change how fast the processor runs.
post #11 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Wasn't the rumor that the white glass somehow effected the performance of the camera so that it didn't work? The rumor was the white glass was letting light bleed through the body of phone. Makes sense if true.

That rumor seemed to be valid. Further evidence is that a teardown photo of the white iPhone also showed the camera being set in deeper as well.
post #12 of 49
It seems like a good balance. They want to stop the activity but not been seen as bullying a kid. However I find it hard to believe a kid was able to contact suppliers in Asia and organise the whole thing. Surely it was his dad and he was just a front man?
post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffjumper68 View Post

The kid complied already with the letter to stop selling this is just creepy corporate thuggery, i hope apple's bad karma comes back on them.

Stop being reactionary and use your brain for two seconds.

You protect or lose your trademark. This legally protects Apple and simultaneously holds the kid [and his parents] liable for future violations without prosecuting him for the current violation.

If this ``kid'' were a small corporation Apple wouldn't be giving them a break, nor should they as they are adults and ignorance of the law is not a defense.

If Apple ignored this they would face precedence of inaction and corporations would leverage that inaction ultimately resulting in damaging the Apple brand.

Grow up and think before you react as if someone's sending the Military against a kid with a water pistol.
post #14 of 49
That was quite an effort to swat a fly.
post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Wasn't the rumor that the white glass somehow effected the performance of the camera so that it didn't work? The rumor was the white glass was letting light bleed through the body of phone. Makes sense if true.

affected
post #16 of 49
As is often the case, the headline of this article is a bit sensational and misleading while the facts of the case are interesting but not very controversial. He was not just some teenager selling "kits" for the iPhone 4. He was somehow getting his hands on official Apple-branded parts illicitly from China and making money off that. That's pretty blatant and indefensible. There isn't a corporation in the world that wouldn't go ballistic if I got branded parts from the company's manufacturing partner and used them commercially. You'd better believe Apple is looking hard at what controls broke down to let him get his hands on those parts.
post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Suing little kids and their parents for doing the job you couldn't figure out how to do?

Perhaps Steve Jobs has been spending too much time hanging out with music execs?

That is such a stupid comment founded on misinterpretation of facts and I hope not to many try explaining the truth that you probably well know.

Do you view your senseless trolling as playful mischief? Is it entertaining to you?
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by See Flat View Post

Do you view your senseless trolling as playful mischief? Is it entertaining to you?

Do you expect him to say no?
post #19 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkalu View Post

That was quite an effort to swat a fly.

Flies don't make $130,000 by getting their hands on illicitly obtained parts.
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It seems like a good balance. They want to stop the activity but not been seen as bullying a kid. However I find it hard to believe a kid was able to contact suppliers in Asia and organise the whole thing. Surely it was his dad and he was just a front man?

Of course. It was only to see if Apple would actually sue. That's why they filed and dismissed the suit so it wouldn't be a PR nightmare.
post #21 of 49
'Think Different' to 'Think Obediance'
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by See Flat View Post

That is such a stupid comment founded on misinterpretation of facts and I hope not to many try explaining the truth that you probably well know.

Do you view your senseless trolling as playful mischief? Is it entertaining to you?

Don't feed him. If you look at some of his past posts, he is apparently a disgruntled small-time developer that obviously made no money making (probably) crappy apps and has a grudge against anything related to Apple. And I only assume the apps were crappy since he spends all of his time trolling here instead of actually programming.
post #23 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Suing little kids and their parents for doing the job you couldn't figure out how to do?

Perhaps Steve Jobs has been spending too much time hanging out with music execs?

Lam is alleged to have contacted Alan Yang of Shenzhen, who operates the business "Focusupply." Apple claims to have obtained an instant message conversation between Yang and Lam, in which Yang said his company had a "friend" at manufacturing company Foxconn.
post #24 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

'Think Different' to 'Think Obediance'

You've misinterpreted that ad campaign if you ever thought it meant, "Break the law and steal".
post #25 of 49
Reminds me of that scene at the end of "Liar Liar" where Jim Carey is in court and asks the judge to strike down everything he says.
post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

Don't feed him. If you look at some of his past posts, he is apparently a disgruntled small-time developer that obviously made no money making (probably) crappy apps and has a grudge against anything related to Apple. And I only assume the apps were crappy since he spends all of his time trolling here instead of actually programming.

I do not nkow or care about the OP, but you should see a doctor. You reached so far up your ass for your post that there is a high probability that you damaged your lower intestine.
post #27 of 49
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go, Little high, little
low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to
me
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post #28 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

And yeah, I know Apple needs to defend their IP. I'm happy to see they immediately dropped the case.

I'll bet money this was orchestrated in advance with this kid's parents' lawyer.

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post #29 of 49
Sorry, this seems like an over-reaction to me, even with Apple asking for dismissal. What did the kid do wrong? And I don't see how what he did impacted Apple's trademarks. Is Apple telling me that if I want to modify my iPhone (let's say put a decal on it or spray paint it), I can't do it? It is MY phone, isn't it? And I can't take it one step further and sell those decals or sell instructions as to how to do it?

It would be one thing if the kid was buying stolen parts, but he apparently got the parts that were being sold on the street in China. If Apple wants to go after someone, they should go after the part manufacturer, not this kid. As long as the kid isn't using Apple's logo on this website or on any packaging of the parts and as long as there's no implication that this is official, it seems to me he should be in the clear.

If someone sells a kit to add neon lights to the bottom of a BMW mini, they don't need BMW's permission even if the marketing says, "made to custom fit a BMW". I don't see how this is any different. Is Apple next going to say that no one can make custom interface cards for the MacPro tower unless they're licensed by Apple?
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

... That said, I cant help but give this kid some cheers for his entrepreneurship and do hope that he got to keep some of the money he made. ...

I don't understand this sentiment at all.

He isn't an "entrepreneur" he's a criminal. There is no reasonable argument he could make that he didn't know that the parts were not kosher in some way. Apple doesn't throw away or sell old parts and every statement he or his family has made since the practice came to light suggests he knew that the parts were stolen.

By this logic crack dealers should be able to keep some of their profits once they get caught too.
post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

Sorry, this seems like an over-reaction to me, even with Apple asking for dismissal. What did the kid do wrong? And I don't see how what he did impacted Apple's trademarks. Is Apple telling me that if I want to modify my iPhone (let's say put a decal on it or spray paint it), I can't do it? It is MY phone, isn't it? And I can't take it one step further and sell those decals or sell instructions as to how to do it?

It would be one thing if the kid was buying stolen parts, but he apparently got the parts that were being sold on the street in China. If Apple wants to go after someone, they should go after the part manufacturer, not this kid. As long as the kid isn't using Apple's logo on this website or on any packaging of the parts and as long as there's no implication that this is official, it seems to me he should be in the clear.

If someone sells a kit to add neon lights to the bottom of a BMW mini, they don't need BMW's permission even if the marketing says, "made to custom fit a BMW". I don't see how this is any different. Is Apple next going to say that no one can make custom interface cards for the MacPro tower unless they're licensed by Apple?

Get off your high horse and read the post!

The kid was getting parts from Apple's manufacturing partners and selling them. They carried the Apple logo and branding.
post #32 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I don't understand this sentiment at all.

He isn't an "entrepreneur" he's a criminal. There is no reasonable argument he could make that he didn't know that the parts were not kosher in some way. Apple doesn't throw away or sell old parts and every statement he or his family has made since the practice came to light suggests he knew that the parts were stolen.

By this logic crack dealers should be able to keep some of their profits once they get caught too.

1) Considering it’s Apple going after Lam isn’t a civil case, not criminal. There might be criminal aspects to how Lam obtained the items but I don’t know of any federal task force assigned to bring charges to Lam. I assume that dealing of the Schedule II substance, like crack cocaine, is a felony offense.

2) A crack dealer likely keeps all the profits he’s made, save for the profits he has on his person. There is no going back and retrieving all the previous sales. It’s simply not possible.

3) Since when is the defendant in a civil case synonymous with criminal.

4) We break laws and do things others would fine unethical all the time. I don’t care about this kid or this fictional drug dealer getting what some else thinks they deserve. You want to take the risk then go for it but be prepared to pay the consequences if you get caught, just like driving over the speed limit.
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post #33 of 49
I am actually wondering how many of those cases are acually the real McCoy. Did they all pass the water bead test, provided the owners of the purchased conversion kits knew about this test?
post #34 of 49
For some reason I thought this thread said, "Apple kills teenager who sold white iPhone4 kits". And I thought, well, that seems a bit harsh.
post #35 of 49
His biggest mistake was putting the Apple logo on them. I guess if they were discarded, legitimate versions though there was nothing he could do about it.
post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) Considering its Apple going after Lam isnt a civil case, not criminal. There might be criminal aspects to how Lam obtained the items but I dont know of any federal task force assigned to bring charges to Lam. I assume that dealing of the Schedule II substance, like crack cocaine, is a felony offense.

2) A crack dealer likely keeps all the profits hes made, save for the profits he has on his person. There is no going back and retrieving all the previous sales. Its simply not possible.

3) Since when is the defendant in a civil case synonymous with criminal.

4) We break laws and do things others would fine unethical all the time. I dont care about this kid or this fictional drug dealer getting what some else thinks they deserve. You want to take the risk then go for it but be prepared to pay the consequences if you get caught, just like driving over the speed limit.

1) Your nitpicking here on my terms. I meant "criminal" only as in "law-breaker" which he clearly is. He intentionally bought stolen parts and re-sold them for profit. Apparently with the full knowledge and approval of his parents as well.

2) Crack dealers *don't* get to keep their profits, nor does anyone involved in a criminal enterprise. Not sure where you got the idea they get to keep the money.

3) see point 1

4) Your morals sound really questionable to me. What's the point off having rules/laws at all if things were as you say?

For what it's worth, I'm really personally disappointed in your responses here. You always struck me as not only a very intelligent person but very fair and reasonable as well. I'm quite shocked that you think the law shouldn't apply, or that people should profit from crime or that the kid should be rewarded in some way for what he did. Any reasonable person should realise that the law exists for a reason. It's what holds society together.

In my view, this result is a good one for this case. The kid did break the law, but he gets a slap on the wrist instead of anything worse. Probably Apple got them to give the $130,000 back, and he doesn't go to jail. Given that he was a kid and probably acting on the (bad) advice of his parents and relatives, that seems good to me.

IMO he's lucky that's all the blow back he got, and hopefully he learned a valuable lesson.
post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedouin View Post

His biggest mistake was putting the Apple logo on them. I guess if they were discarded, legitimate versions though there was nothing he could do about it.

He didn't put the logo on. They are/were stolen Apple parts.
post #38 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

2) Crack dealers *don't* get to keep their profits, nor does anyone involved in a criminal enterprise. Not sure where you got the idea they get to keep the money.

How does a crack dealer have his profits from say, 3 years of dealing get accounted for? Unless there is a physical record of his dealings in that time I can’t imagine they could. All they can do is prosecute his as the law sees fit, which I’d think would be the same regardless if it’s his first or 1000th day dealing. They’d go by the number of times he was caught, how much he had to sell, etc. That’s all they can really know.

What about Bernie Madoff? How to get all those people’s money back if he spent so much of it?

Quote:
I'm quite shocked that you think the law shouldn't apply, or that people should profit from crime or that the kid should be rewarded in some way for what he did. Any reasonable person should realise that the law exists for a reason. It's what holds society together.

I did not say the law shouldn’t apply. I said that people should have a right to not abide by the law, but should be willing to suffer the consequences if they are caught breaking it.

Like driving over the speed limit, jaywalking, ignoring the War Powers Clause or the opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765, I don’t think anyone should blindly follow any laws simply because they are made by a powerful body, but I do caution everyone to be ready to deal with the consequences if they do choose not to follow the rules set by those above them.

Quote:
In my view, this result is a good one for this case.

At least we can agree here.
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post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

'Think Different' to 'Think Obediance'

How many aliases does Tekstud have?

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GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #40 of 49
Some people here don't even deserve to own Apple products. There's nothing to even argue about in this particular situation. Simply put, Apple is right, the kid is wrong.

Apple, in a huge act of kindness, decides to dismiss the suit, and some people have the nerve to bash Apple?

Anybody even remotely defending the kid or his illegal, thieving ways deserves to have the same thing happen to them. The kid is lucky that things didn't turn out a whole lot worse for him. The kid's name sounds like he's of Chinese heritage. He should learn that the USA is not China, and what he did might fly in China, a country where intellectual property rights are hardly protected, but in the USA, a company like Apple is going to go after his kind and nail his butt to the floor if they find it necessary to do so.
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