The law firm of King & Ferlauto has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple in Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. The firm alleges that Apple has violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act by not supporting certain G3-equipped models of Mac systems with the same features in Mac OS X afforded to more recently developed G4-based systems. To find out more, MacCentral spoke with attorney Thomas Ferlauto.
Ferlauto’s not just representing plaintiffs in this case. He’s an affected party, too. Ferlauto said that he is a G3 user who feels betrayed by Apple’s development strategy.
The firm alleges that Apple represented in a press release published in May of 1998 that Mac OS X would be “fully optimized” for PowerPC G3-based systems. More recently, however, G3 users migrating from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X have discovered that they’ve lost features like DVD playback, support for hardware graphics acceleration using OpenGL and hardware-accelerated QuickTime movie playback.
“There were representations made to us to get us to purchase Mac OS X,” said Ferlauto. “A lot of people put down $129 thinking that [Mac OS X] was something they could use on their computers, when it’s not a viable operating system for these computers.”
Older Power Macs, iBooks, iMacs and PowerBooks sport slower ATI graphics accelerators, and to date, Apple has not provided OS X drivers or application software that offer the same capabilities as drivers and applications under 9.
“In fact, the failure to write the drivers for the hardware video accelerators in these computers degraded performance so severely that OS X is rendered an unrealistic option for an operating system, as compared to the previous system,” stated the filing.
“The reason for this slow performance was not due to the inherent limitations of either these computers or OS X,” according to the firm. “Rather, it was due to Apple’s willful failure to write software drivers in OS X to take advantage of [certain ATI-based hardware accelerators].”
The firm also noted that in separate technical addenda posted in December, Apple indicated that further Mac OS X support for the graphics accelerators in question was not planned, and that further development of Apple’s DVD Player 3 software was not planned for certain PowerBook models.
The filing stated that Apple’s “scheme of misrepresentation” was “used to accelerate a deliberate policy of planned obsolescence” which caused customers to buy a G3, upgrade to Mac OS X, and then buy a G4-based system to get the performance and features they were looking for.
This, contends King & Ferlauto, is what violates California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. The law states that it is unfair and deceptive to represent “that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or qualities which they do not have …” and advertise “goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.”
“Apple was given statutory notice of their violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act,” said Ferlauto, reiterating a point made in the court filing. “They were afforded time to respond, and there was no response from anyone.”
The suit seeks actual damages in the form of the purchase price of the G3-based systems affected as well as the costs of upgrading to Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.1; incidental and consequential damages (including the price of accessories and software); and other costs.
Ferlauto explained that because the class action suit is in response to a California consumer protection law, it only covers California residents. Ferlauto suggested that it’s possible that similar consumer protection legislation in other states may provide residents of those states with remedies of their own, however.
Ferlauto doesn’t want people to think that he’s filing this suit out of malice, either — he said it’s motivated more by a sense of betrayal.
“I love the company and I love their products,” he told MacCentral. “My next computer will probably be another Mac.”
An Apple spokesperson contacted for this story declined to comment.