Apple argues plaintiffs are too vague in class action lawsuit over Siri

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited January 2014
Apple has filed a motion to dismiss a set of class-action lawsuits, which accuse the company of falsely advertising its Siri voice assistant feature for the iPhone 4S, under the grounds that the plaintiffs did not specify exactly what claims led them to purchase the device.

The Cupertino, Calif., company was hit with several lawsuits (1, 2) against Siri this spring. The complaints take issue with the advertising campaign for the iPhone 4S, alleging that Siri does not work as claimed.

Documents filed with the court last week contain Apple's counterarguments, as noted by MacNN. The company first argues that several of the plaintiffs are "lack standing" to assert California consumer protection laws because they purchased the device and reside in other states.

"Under Ninth Circuit authority, the consumer protection laws of the state of purchase -- not the consumer protection laws of California -- govern such claims by out-of-state purchases," the motion read.

Apple also asserted that plaintiffs' claims do not establish a case because they "fail to allege any supposed misrepresentation with particularity." The company specifically mentioned a lack of information about "when [plaintiffs] were exposed to the purportedly misleading advertisements, which ones they found material, how and why they were false, or which they relied upon in purchasing their iPhones."



The iPhone maker said the claims relied on a "selective reading" of Apple's materials without taking into account its disclosures. Apple also argued that the Consumer Legal Remedies Act does not apply to software. Furthermore, the company said plaintiffs neglected to provide "the requisite pre-suit notice of an alleged breach of warranty" and chose not to take advantage of Apple's 30-day return policy.

Siri has been a prominent factor in Apple's advertising for the iPhone 4S. Two Siri-related television commercials, "Road Trip" and "Rock God," were specifically mentioned in some of the plaintiffs' complaints about false advertising.

The company's advertising efforts do appear to have had some success in the adoption of the service. A March study found that 87 percent of iPhone 4S owners use Siri at least once a month.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34


    It looks like complaining the iPhone 4S should have been 'more mind blowinger' isn't going to fly. Thanks for playing guys.

  • Reply 2 of 34


    Some customers are acting all alpha over beta software. No wonder Siri thinks some people should own a Nokis 800, just out of spite.

  • Reply 3 of 34
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post


    It looks like complaining the iPhone 4S should have been 'more mind blowinger' isn't going to fly. Thanks for playing guys.



    They probably wanted Siri to call them a Rock God and the person asking doesn't play a musical instrument in a rock band, so in that circumstance, maybe Siri didn't feel that the person was qualified.  I think Siri was being sarcastic in saying that the Nokia was the best phone on the market.  Siri does have a sense of humor and is always rather dead pan in the delivery.  I think they should get permission to use the voice of Spock and HAL as options.  I am sure the Trekkies and the 2001 fans would love that.

  • Reply 4 of 34
    wakefinancewakefinance Posts: 855member


    As much as I don't think that Siri works as expected, I think this lawsuit will be thrown out since Apple had the foresight to dub Siri a beta product.

  • Reply 5 of 34
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    As much as I don't think that Siri works as expected, I think this lawsuit will be thrown out since Apple had the foresight to dub Siri a beta product.

    That doesn't appear to be one of the defenses that Apple used - and I'm not sure it would be a particularly useful defense, anyway. The article lists the defenses Apple used.

    It looks like complaining the iPhone 4S should have been 'more mind blowinger' isn't going to fly. Thanks for playing guys.

    I think they need this product:
    http://scoopertino.com/new-app-makes-it-easy-to-get-rich-off-of-apple/
  • Reply 6 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,161member


    Judge:  "So tell me why you bought your iPhone 4s?"


     


    Plaintive: "So I could sue Apple for something."


     


    Judge: "Something?  You didn't know what for at the time?"


     


    Plaintive: "No need your honor, I always wait to see which is the most interesting class action law suit and join in just like with previous iPhones."


     


    Judge: "So what was it this time?"


     


    Plaintive: "Just a minute, I have to check my notes."

  • Reply 7 of 34
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    That doesn't appear to be one of the defenses that Apple used - and I'm not sure it would be a particularly useful defense, anyway. 


     


    Actually they did use it as it is likely one of the 'disclosures' they mention being ignored. 


     


    That none of these folks live in or bought in California is probably enough to get the case tossed out of California. Let them try this in each of their own states and let the class be the buyers in their state. However that they had 30 days to return the 'defective' or 'unsatisfactory' product with zero Apple or carrier penalties is probably going to hurt them a lot. As well the timing of when they bought versus when the tv ads started and what they showed. If they bought in the say the first week but the Siri ads didn't start until week two then they can't really claim they bought because a tv ad showed them perfect working Siri etc

  • Reply 8 of 34
    tokenusertokenuser Posts: 69member


    Siri, find me an Apple store with glass doors that doesn't have safety stickers on it yet, and a class action attorney. 

  • Reply 9 of 34
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,679member


    "Apple's 30-day return policy". Enough said. If it doesn't work, then return it.

     

  • Reply 10 of 34
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Some customers are acting all alpha over beta software. No wonder Siri thinks some people should own a Nokis 800, just out of spite.



     


    Honestly, you shouldn't be marketing a "beta" feature as your main selling point if by "beta" you mean that it doesn't work half the time.

  • Reply 11 of 34
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

    "Apple's 30-day return policy". Enough said. If it doesn't work, then return it.


     


    Not good enough, according to our Australian friends.




    See, people don't actually have to take any responsibility of their own. They can do whatever they want and then sue when things don't meet their expectations, even if their expectations of the device aren't in the feature set.

  • Reply 12 of 34


    ....and attorneys wonder why they are so despised as group....forever trying to find "legal" ways of extortion and perpetuating the waste of time and money for their inflated egos only to create billable hours...Pathetic.

     

  • Reply 13 of 34
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Some customers are acting all alpha over beta software. No wonder Siri thinks some people should own a Nokis 800, just out of spite.



     


    Honestly, you shouldn't be marketing a "beta" feature as your main selling point if by "beta" you mean that it doesn't work half the time.



     


    I agree with this. US law generally seems to give lots of legal wiggle room to advertisers and their "disclaimers" in cases like this though. It's basically a value judgement we've made as a country.

  • Reply 14 of 34
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jukes View Post


     


    I agree with this. US law generally seems to give lots of legal wiggle room to advertisers and their "disclaimers" in cases like this though. It's basically a value judgement we've made as a country.



     


    The problem I have with labeling things that they are selling (and yes, having all of the iPhone commercials feature Siri means they are selling Siri as a prominent feature) as "beta" is a complete cop-out and Apple, or any company, shouldn't be able to fall back on that as a defense. And BTW, how many average consumers even know what beta means in a software development context? I know what it means, and I also know that it certainly doesn't mean that it is something that should be the sole focus of their marketing campaign if it is only labeled that way as a disclaimer that it might not work as expected.

  • Reply 15 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Some customers are acting all alpha over beta software. No wonder Siri thinks some people should own a Nokis 800, just out of spite.



    Siri is one of the main features in the 4S. You just don't advertise a "beta" product as the main focal point of a product just to sell it. Shame on Apple.

  • Reply 16 of 34
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AndroidUser View Post


    Siri is one of the main features in the 4S. You just don't advertise a "beta" product as the main focal point of a product just to sell it. Shame on Apple.



     


    Exactly! Google being cutsie and labeling their products as "beta" when they are giving them away for free is fine. Labeling a product you are selling as "beta" just so you won't get sued when it doesn't work as expected based on your advertising is not.

  • Reply 17 of 34
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AndroidUser View Post

    Siri is one of the main features in the 4S. You just don't advertise a "beta" product as the main focal point of a product just to sell it. Shame on Apple.


     


    Well, we're 'delusional', so what do we know.

  • Reply 18 of 34
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,255member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post


     


    Honestly, you shouldn't be marketing a "beta" feature as your main selling point if by "beta" you mean that it doesn't work half the time.



    Half the time would be difficult to prove in court.   Burden of proof falls with the plaintiff.   I'm betting that for most of the tasks shown in commercials the success rate is far higher than 50% 


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Not good enough, according to our Australian friends.




    See, people don't actually have to take any responsibility of their own. They can do whatever they want and then sue when things don't meet their expectations, even if their expectations of the device aren't in the feature set.



     


    Now I see why Australia pays such high prices.   Distance causing expensive shipping and a bureaucratic system that will only penalize the consumers (the silly 4G thing).  Sucks to them. 


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post


     


    Exactly! Google being cutsie and labeling their products as "beta" when they are giving them away for free is fine. Labeling a product you are selling as "beta" just so you won't get sued when it doesn't work as expected based on your advertising is not.



     


    There are plenty of reasons why people by the iPhone 4s that don't involve Siri at all.    It's not about what you can guess in court it's about what you can prove.  

  • Reply 19 of 34
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jukes View Post


     


    I agree with this. US law generally seems to give lots of legal wiggle room to advertisers and their "disclaimers" in cases like this though. It's basically a value judgement we've made as a country.



     


    The problem I have with labeling things that they are selling (and yes, having all of the iPhone commercials feature Siri means they are selling Siri as a prominent feature) as "beta" is a complete cop-out and Apple, or any company, shouldn't be able to fall back on that as a defense. And BTW, how many average consumers even know what beta means in a software development context? I know what it means, and I also know that it certainly doesn't mean that it is something that should be the sole focus of their marketing campaign if it is only labeled that way as a disclaimer that it might not work as expected.



     


    Sure, but I doubt that "beta" has any legal meaning, all that matters is the fine print.


     


    I like the idea of requiring software to work as advertised, but if you've ever read a software license then you know that most software that you buy isn't actually guaranteed to do anything at all.

  • Reply 20 of 34
    fuzz_ballfuzz_ball Posts: 390member


    Not a direct comment on the actual legal complaint (in terms of how they worded it) but more on the spirit of the complaint.


     


    1) The commercial push of the 4S based on Siri is not "beta". They are not pitching their advertisements as "we would really like Siri to be able to do all these things, and sometimes some of them work, but don't buy the 4S based on any of these ads".


     


    2) Predicated on 1 above; most of the things I've tried with Siri that I've seen advertised either NEVER work, or at best work 50% of the time.


     


    Who am I? A Californian with the same "accent" as Steve Jobs, so it's not like I have a difficult accent that Siri isn't used to yet. And I'm talking basic things: like reading my text or e-mail to me, which was advertised in the first commercials. I find that for me, Siri is only consistently good at one thing: setting the timer (and I do use it frequently when I cook). They really shouldn't have marketed it so heavily before they got it working better IMO.

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