Apple hit by Belgian product warranty complaint, Russian railway trademark suit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Following in the footsteps of Italian regulators, a nonprofit consumer protection group in Belgium has taken issue with Apple's advertised product warranties, while a Russian rail company has filed suit over an alleged trademark violation.

Belgium AppleCare

After sorting out issues relating to extended warranties in Italy with a final $264,000 fine, Apple on Tuesday was hit with another complaint from a European consumer advocate group, this time from Belgium.

Belgium AppleCare
Belgian Online Apple Store's AppleCare webpage with footnote link to EU warranty rights (in red). | Source: Apple


Citing the Italian case as precedent, Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats filed a complaint on Monday, claiming the way in which Apple markets its AppleCare warranties to Belgian consumers is improper according to EU law, reports TechCrunch.

The European Union mandates that all consumer electronics purchases in the region be backed by a two-year warranty from the manufacturer, a sticking point for Apple which only offers a limited one-year warranty for its products. In March of 2012, Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats joined forces with ten other groups to force Apple to change its policies, but the petitions went unrecognized resulting in the watchdog's complaint.

In its case with Italian authorities, Apple modified its warranty labeling both on its website and on physical display boxes to better inform customers that they were entitled to a two-year warranty per EU law. Italy initially fined the company 900,000 euros, or $1.2 million, in 2011 for what it considered to be "unfair commercial practices."

While Apple currently has a webpage on the Belgium Online Apple Store dedicated to informing European customers of their warranty rights, the link is located in a small footnote on the AppleCare Protection Plan page.

Russian Railways Suit

In addition to the Belgian complaint, Apple was hit with a suit from Russian Railways on Monday in which the transportation company is claiming damages of 2 million rubles, or $65,000, for alleged trademark infringement.

RZD
Certified "RZD" trademark. | Source: FISP


According to a press release (via TechCrunch) regarding the complaint, the Moscow-based Russian Railways is claiming its Trademark No. 341333 was infringed when pictures of the image were posted on the "online Apple Store." A check with the Russian Federation's Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (FIPS), the trademark in question is the red and white "RZD" logo that was registered and published in 2008.

The statement's wording is unclear, but Russian Railways could be referring to app icons seen in the App Store which may bear the RZD logo without permission.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    The statement's wording is unclear, but Russian Railways could be referring to app icons seen in the App Store which may bear the RZD logo without permission.


     


    This would be the fault of the respective developers and not Apple, correct? Should it be the case, of course.

  • Reply 2 of 34
    The description of the copyright claim is a bit vague... I blame AppleInsider.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    the EU warranties item needs to be pushed. Other countries have the same type of requirements. NZ is potentially even longer, depending on how you take the vaguely worded consumer law, but apple still ignores it with their 1year rubbish. Unfortunately a lot of companies flout that law, and there appears to be little desire to take legal action on the companies.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    EU mandate is 'warranty' by seller, not manufacturer.

    All these complaints are basically that Apple doesn't cater to the lazy and stupid and spell out what those 'in addition to protections provided by local laws' protections mean.

    I say Apple just kill all Apple programs in the EU. Lets see what happens when someone's totally functioning mic in the iPhone they bought at a carrier store fails at 11 months in and local law says they have to prove it wasn't working when they bought it tries to get a free replacement from Apple. Won't happen but it would have under Apple's voluntary 1 year manufacturer's program. I say they refuse to let folks buy service parts even. Let them buy retail to replace it.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    Lets pick on Apple, not the developer.  They know that Apple has Billions and will pay out.

  • Reply 6 of 34
    kevtkevt Posts: 195member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    This would be the fault of the respective developers and not Apple, correct? Should it be the case, of course.



     


    Or should it? Of course a developer has a large responsibility.


     


    But as the seller, Apple has responsibility too - especially given that Apps have to go through a stringent approval process, which Apple touts as a major benefit of the iOS platform. 


     


    Seeing as Apple is so keen to take a 30% cut, maybe they should pay 30% of damages (should it be the case) and the developer 70%.

  • Reply 7 of 34
    If the EU is going to start cracking down perhaps it's time for Apple to take the warranty lead and offer 2 years to all countries. If there's any company who could do it, it's Apple. I liken it to when car manufacturers want to stand out... Usually it's the up-and-coming brands (Hyundai/KIA) or ones trying to re-establish reputation (GM, Jaguar/Land Rover).
    Apple doesn't really fall into those categories but I say they should do it and market it.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    kevt wrote: »
    Or should it? Of course a developer has a large responsibility.

    But as the seller, Apple has responsibility too - especially given that Apps have to go through a stringent approval process, which Apple touts as a major benefit of the iOS platform. 

    Seeing as Apple is so keen to take a 30% cut, maybe they should pay 30% of damages (should it be the case) and the developer 70%.

    Apple's approval is to ensure that the app works, doesn't violate Apple's terms of service, and doesn't contain known malware. Apple never claimed that they'd be looking for copyright infringement. In fact, they specifically state that they do not do so - as it would be nearly impossible.
    charlituna wrote: »
    EU mandate is 'warranty' by seller, not manufacturer. .

    That's my understanding, as well.

    Not to mention, of course, that AppleCare offers things that are not covered by the warranty, so there's nothing illegal about offering it.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    These warranty laws are BS, and not surprisingly apple has run afoul of this nonsense.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,437member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kevt View Post


     


    Or should it? Of course a developer has a large responsibility.


     


    But as the seller, Apple has responsibility too - especially given that Apps have to go through a stringent approval process, which Apple touts as a major benefit of the iOS platform. 


     


    Seeing as Apple is so keen to take a 30% cut, maybe they should pay 30% of damages (should it be the case) and the developer 70%.



    I disagree.   The approval process is primarily about technical issues.   Apple cannot be responsible for copyright issues within each application.   Do you realize what it would cost Apple to perform the research to make sure that the developer had all rights to the content within the app?  That's totally impractical.   Do you also think that Apple has to make sure that every song on iTunes has not illegally copied another existing song?    Because to be consistent, you would have to believe that.


     


    This is about one thing.  "Let's sue Apple...I bet if we keep the damages low enough, they won't fight it and they'll just pay us off."

  • Reply 11 of 34
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    ifij775 wrote: »
    These warranty laws are BS, and not surprisingly apple has run afoul of this nonsense.

    Why do you think it's BS? The customer gets warranty on the products they buy. First 6 months this and this covered by warranty, month 7 through 12 this and this is covered and the 2nd year covers this and this. Yes, it's a tiered warranty, if you will.

    I think the whole complaint on the AppleCare product / not eye-catching enough consumer rights mention on Apple websites in the EU is total BS. Covered in great length in the Italian job threads.
  • Reply 12 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post



    the EU warranties item needs to be pushed. Other countries have the same type of requirements. NZ is potentially even longer, depending on how you take the vaguely worded consumer law, but apple still ignores it with their 1year rubbish. Unfortunately a lot of companies flout that law, and there appears to be little desire to take legal action on the companies.


     


    They don't actually ignore it. They follow it to the letter of the law. The issue seems to be the confusion around Applecare. Applecare goes above and beyond what the law requires, but they complain as it looks like Apple is telling people they must buy Applecare for coverage. All Apple is selling is premium coverage which is not illegal. They really need to clean up the wording on their Applecare programs and training of their staff. What they are doing is legal, but they need to make it more obvious to keep these consumer protection organizations from complaining. 

  • Reply 13 of 34
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    cycomiko wrote: »
    the EU warranties item needs to be pushed. Other countries have the same type of requirements. NZ is potentially even longer, depending on how you take the vaguely worded consumer law, but apple still ignores it with their 1year rubbish. Unfortunately a lot of companies flout that law, and there appears to be little desire to take legal action on the companies.

    They don't actually ignore it. They follow it to the letter of the law. The issue seems to be the confusion around Applecare. Applecare goes above and beyond what the law requires, but they complain as it looks like Apple is telling people they must buy Applecare for coverage. All Apple is selling is premium coverage which is not illegal. They really need to clean up the wording on their Applecare programs and training of their staff. What they are doing is legal, but they need to make it more obvious to keep these consumer protection organizations from complaining. 

    Excellent point! That is indeed was is needed.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member


    Apple is acting illegaly, period. I experienced it.


    My iPod Nano had broken up in less than 2 years.


    I took it to the Apple Store for a free replacement as the european law imposes (and that's also common sense, a Nano shouldn't break by itself after less than 2 years or it's a shitty product).


    They didn't want to give it to me.


    I called Apple by phone, said I was taping the conversation and that I would sue if I didn't get the replacement, they agreed right away and I picked it from the same Apple Store.


    They are taking advantage of customers who don't know their rights and won't insist like I did in order to avoid respecting the law.

     

  • Reply 15 of 34
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,353member
    charlituna wrote: »
    I say Apple just kill all Apple programs in the EU.

    Grow up! Apple make a lot of money in the EU. These fines are a tiny fraction of the money they take and the fines are a fraction of what it costs to replace or repair products between year 1and 2. At the moment these fines are the cheapest way forwards for Apple.
    Not to mention that pulling products from the EU on these grounds would just lead to EU sueing for discrimination.
    The world doesn't revolve around America you know.

    Maybe Americans should stop buying Apple products until they get the 2 year warranty too. You are only doing yourself out of what can easily be offered by Apple.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    clemynx wrote: »
    Apple is acting illegaly, period. I experienced it.
    My iPod Nano had broken up in less than 2 years.
    I took it to the Apple Store for a free replacement as the european law imposes (and that's also common sense, a Nano shouldn't break by itself after less than 2 years or it's a shitty product).
    They didn't want to give it to me.
    I called Apple by phone, said I was taping the conversation and that I would sue if I didn't get the replacement, they agreed right away and I picked it from the same Apple Store.
    They are taking advantage of customers who don't know their rights and won't insist like I did in order to avoid respecting the law.

     

    So Apple honored the warranty. Therefore your claims that they are breaking the law are false.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member


    Apple deserves to be nailed for their attitude to this in the EU.


     


    If you were buying a 15" Macbook Pro Retina in Ireland, Applecare is going to cost you €349 vs a purchase price of €2349.  That's about 15% the cost of buying it for effectively one years extra warranty.  IMO, you would have to be a mug to buy it.  To find out you are covered by the two year statutory warranty, you have to go to the second last link on the page - the word 'warranty' is not even on the support page.


     


    If you go through the purchase process in the store, and click on the service and support tab, you get taken straight to the Applecare add-on.  Again, it doesn't even tell you you about Apple's own one-year warranty, you have to click on the 'learn more' tab before you get a bit more info.  Even when you do that Apple is being deliberately misleading, they have this helpful little graphic:


     



    The Year 2 segment should at least be coloured and labeled to indicate it is covered by Apple under EU laws. Again, to get the full picture, you have to click a further link to learn about the 2 year warranty:  They even resort to visual trickery to try and exaggerate the benefit of applecare - the Year 1 segment is 5mm shorter than the other two.


     


    Quote:


    * Apple One-Year Limited Warranty and AppleCare Protection Plan benefits are in addition to rights provided under consumer law. For details, click here.


  • Reply 18 of 34
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    EU mandate is 'warranty' by seller, not manufacturer.



    All these complaints are basically that Apple doesn't cater to the lazy and stupid and spell out what those 'in addition to protections provided by local laws' protections mean.



    I say Apple just kill all Apple programs in the EU. Lets see what happens when someone's totally functioning mic in the iPhone they bought at a carrier store fails at 11 months in and local law says they have to prove it wasn't working when they bought it tries to get a free replacement from Apple. Won't happen but it would have under Apple's voluntary 1 year manufacturer's program. I say they refuse to let folks buy service parts even. Let them buy retail to replace it.




    Lol the thing is that if that happens now, the carrier will replace the phone, and there's nothing to prove if the fault is apparent, like a mic not functionning, even if it happened after purchase. On the other hand, if you buy it from an Apple Store, Apple will refuse to replace it, contrary to law.

  • Reply 19 of 34
    plagenplagen Posts: 151member


    Don's Europeans understand that warranty does not come for free?


     


    That the 2-year warranty comes with a price increase that you must pay whether you want it or not. No wonder that the most common question on consumer goods forums is " Why does this camera (computer, phone) cost so much more in EU than in the USA, even VAT accounted for?". Wouldn't be much better if a consumer decides for himself whether he wants a 2year warranty and pay extra? I guess, the government knows better ;)

  • Reply 20 of 34
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member


    They cost more in Europe 'before' the EU legislation was enacted.  The US market is pre-dominated by cheapskates.  Many products cost less in the US than even in their home markets.  It's got next to nothing to do with the cost of honouring warranties.

     


    A pair of B&W 802D speakers will cost you $12,000 in the US and the £ equivalent of $18,481 in the UK.  Sales/Vat  tax differences also play a part.

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