Apple agrees to $50M settlement in MacBook butterfly keyboard lawsuit

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 2022
Apple has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over its "Butterfly" keyboards, with $50 million being paid out to end a lawsuit over the controversial keyboard design.




Settled on Tuesday, the lawsuit has Apple paying out $50 million to plaintiffs affected by its use of butterfly keyboards in its MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro lineup.

The payments are intended for customers who bought a MacBook, MacBook Air, and most MacBook Pro models between 2015 and 2019, located in seven states, reports Reuters. Those states are California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.

It is expected that the customers will receive maximum payouts of $395 for those who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to those who replaced one keyboard, and $50 to any who replaced key caps. Customers were eligible for free keyboard repairs for four years after original purchase, with most models having already fallen off the free repair list.

Law firms Girard Sharp LLP and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner and Donaldson-Smith LLP can claim up to $15 million from the $50 million settlement, to cover legal fees.

Apple denied any wrongdoing in settling, and did not offer further comments.

The class-action suit surfaced after users discovered their butterfly keyboards were prone to sticking and becoming unresponsive over time. The problem lay in the mechanism, which was able to be clogged by small amounts of dust and debris very easily.

The lawsuits also claimed that Apple was aware of the problem, and accused the company of failing to do enough in customer support. During the period, Apple offered advice on specific ways to clean a clogged keyboard, and in June 2018, launched a keyboard service program for those affected by the issue.

While initial reports were anecdotal, service data collected by AppleInsider for the first year of release of relevant MacBook Pro models revealed that the butterfly keyboard failed twice as often in the first year as its predecessors.

In 2018, Apple added a membrane to the mechanism, which was billed as a way to make the keyboard "quieter." It also appeared that the membrane was an attempt to keep out some of the debris, albeit poorly, though Apple said at the time the membrane was not intended to improve reliability.

Small design changes to the keyboard in 2019 did little to alleviate the problem.

With the introduction of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple fixed the problem by throwing out the butterfly mechanism and introducing the Magic Keyboard, which switched back to a scissor-style mechanism. The Magic Keyboard has since spread throughout the rest of the product line.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    zimmermannzimmermann Posts: 327member
    I have two MacBooks with this keyboard. Luckily they both still work nicely. In the Netherlands clearly no help from this class-action suit. 
    edited July 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 61
    AniMillAniMill Posts: 164member
     Apple denied any wrongdoing…” 

    Ummm, I have great respect for most Apple products and business practices, but the Butterfly Keyboard was an unmitigated disaster in design and durability. I understand they have to deny culpability, but they should send this bill to Jony Ive. Maybe this (along with the Apple Watch tree removal fiasco) were the real reasons they pushed him out, and cut ties to his new venture.
    grandact73Alex1Ntokyojimumaximara
  • Reply 3 of 61
    Pretty small payout relative to the hysteria in the tech press about this issue. 
    cornchipStrangeDaysAlex1NFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 61
    h2ph2p Posts: 331member
    FYI. Illinois can be added to the list of covered states.
  • Reply 5 of 61
    omasouomasou Posts: 592member
    Pretty small payout relative to the hysteria in the tech press about this issue. 
    The ONLY people who make out in a class action lawsuit are the law firms / lawyers.

    I had a MacBook Pro w/the butterfly keyboard, It was fine. Just different.
    cornchipzeus423StrangeDaysAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 61
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,654member
    Many of the key caps wore away on my late 2016 MBP and one broke off completely. I bought a set of key caps from a third party, but I broke two of the clips in the underlying keyboard in the process, so those caps just sit there loose.  One is the Pipe key, so that’s hardly used, but the other is the N key. Other than that, the keyboard itself still works okay.  

    I can’t remember if I signed up for the lawsuit or not. 

    I’ll probably wind up replacing the machine anyway once the M2 MBP 16” is released, although if it weren’t for the keyboard and the fact that the battery is essentially dead (Apple wants something like $600 to replace it), I’d probably wait another year.    
    Alex1N
  • Reply 7 of 61
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,899member
    My 2017 MBP 15" keyboard had these problems. I took it in to an Apple store and also pointed out that the battery seemed to be swelling (another issue some of this model were prone to developing). The battery swap also replaced the keyboard (integrated via glue) so both problems solved. No charge to me and process only took a few days. This was May of last year and I may be seeing new key sticking already. Hoping there will be a larger screen M2 MBA sometime soon.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 8 of 61
    ransonranson Posts: 72member
    AniMill said:
    “ Apple denied any wrongdoing…” 

    Ummm, I have great respect for most Apple products and business practices, but the Butterfly Keyboard was an unmitigated disaster in design and durability. I understand they have to deny culpability, but they should send this bill to Jony Ive. Maybe this (along with the Apple Watch tree removal fiasco) were the real reasons they pushed him out, and cut ties to his new venture.
    To be clear, there is no wrongdoing here. Wrongdoing in the legal sense means with nefarious intent. Clearly Apple did not intend to make everyone's life miserable with this terrible keyboard design.
    MplsPbageljoeycornchipStrangeDaysuraharaAlex1NFileMakerFellermaximara
  • Reply 9 of 61
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,757member
    ranson said:
    AniMill said:
    “ Apple denied any wrongdoing…” 

    Ummm, I have great respect for most Apple products and business practices, but the Butterfly Keyboard was an unmitigated disaster in design and durability. I understand they have to deny culpability, but they should send this bill to Jony Ive. Maybe this (along with the Apple Watch tree removal fiasco) were the real reasons they pushed him out, and cut ties to his new venture.
    To be clear, there is no wrongdoing here. Wrongdoing in the legal sense means with nefarious intent. Clearly Apple did not intend to make everyone's life miserable with this terrible keyboard design.
    And I suppose settling will have allowed them to avoid having to provide internal data on exactly how many machines were repaired due to keyboard issues. 
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchipAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 61
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,956member
    omasou said:
    Pretty small payout relative to the hysteria in the tech press about this issue. 
    The ONLY people who make out in a class action lawsuit are the law firms / lawyers.

    I had a MacBook Pro w/the butterfly keyboard, It was fine. Just different.
    I had a 2016 MBP. It was different - different in that it was worse than any other keyboard I have owned. I babied it like I've babied no other keyboard I've used and still had more problems with keys sticking or not working than any other keyboard I've used. I bought a 16" MBP a few years ago and not only is the keyboard a joy to type on, it just works.

    I agree with @ranson and @AniMill ; - there was no nefarious intent on Apple's part, simply a deeply flawed design that was an unmitigated disaster. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 11 of 61
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    I own 15" 2018 Macbook Pro with butter fly keyboard. How do I claim my payout from $50M ?
  • Reply 12 of 61
    mrochestermrochester Posts: 700member
    I still miss the keyboard on my 2017 MBP.  The one on the 2019 16" is nowhere near as good, which really surprised me given how much people raved about the 2019 keyboard and railed against the 2017.
    edited July 2022 tyler82Alex1N
  • Reply 13 of 61
    omasouomasou Posts: 592member
    wood1208 said:
    I own 15" 2018 Macbook Pro with butter fly keyboard. How do I claim my payout from $50M ?
    Reading the article only folks who had to replace the keyboard can be part of the suit.

    Did you follow the lawsuit link, to the previous store and then read the the motion?
    StrangeDaysAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 61
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,469member
    For my work computer I use a 2019 MBP with the butterfly keyboard, my personal computer is a M2 MBAir with the scissor keyboard. TBH I prefer the butterfly, the scissor feels dated. Maybe it's because I got used to the butterfly, but I feel buttons are more stable. I never had issues with it, except the caps-lock needs a firm tap. With a few more revisions, Apple could've nailed a better tech than the scissor. Anywho, it is what it is
    Alex1N
  • Reply 15 of 61
    I still remember the ridiculing I got in here at AI because I dared to mention this problem 4 years ago. Back then, I was just a whining troll …obviously 🙄 
    digitolmuthuk_vanalingamtyler82uraharaAlex1Ngrandact73elijahg
  • Reply 16 of 61
    No wonder LoveForm’s contract wasn’t renewed.
    cornchip9secondkox2Alex1N
  • Reply 17 of 61
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,805member
    Thanks Jony
    9secondkox2Alex1Nmacxpress
  • Reply 18 of 61
    avon b7 said:
    ranson said:
    AniMill said:
    “ Apple denied any wrongdoing…” 

    Ummm, I have great respect for most Apple products and business practices, but the Butterfly Keyboard was an unmitigated disaster in design and durability. I understand they have to deny culpability, but they should send this bill to Jony Ive. Maybe this (along with the Apple Watch tree removal fiasco) were the real reasons they pushed him out, and cut ties to his new venture.
    To be clear, there is no wrongdoing here. Wrongdoing in the legal sense means with nefarious intent. Clearly Apple did not intend to make everyone's life miserable with this terrible keyboard design.
    And I suppose settling will have allowed them to avoid having to provide internal data on exactly how many machines were repaired due to keyboard issues. 
    The number $35 million ($50 million minus $15 million in legal fees) gives you a very rough idea of the total number of repairs in the five year period for those states. It has to be less than 700,000 (if all repairs were $50 variety) and more than 88,000 (if all repairs were $395 variety) since it's going to be a mix of $50, $125, and $395 payouts. Or from an annual perspective: less than 20,000 repairs on average per state and more than 2,500 repairs on average per state. 
    Alex1NFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 19 of 61
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,899member
    DAalseth said:
    Thanks Jony

    Don't see his name on the patent.
    https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2015047612A3/en

    cornchipStrangeDaysAlex1NFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 20 of 61
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,805member
    welshdog said:
    DAalseth said:
    Thanks Jony

    Don't see his name on the patent.
    https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2015047612A3/en

    Wouldn’t have gone into production without his OK. Would not have happened at all without his push for thinner at all costs. 
    edited July 2022 cornchip9secondkox2Alex1Nelijahg
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