Brazil Fines Apple $2m, Heightening Its Consumer and Regulator Troubles

Brazil Fines Apple $2m, Heightening Its Consumer and Regulator Troubles

Apple has been slapped with a $2 million fine in Brazil for selling iPhones without a charger, adding to its many problems with watchdogs.

In addition to levying a hefty fine (10,546,442.48 Brazilian real), São Paulo-based consumer protection foundation Procon on Friday also accused Apple of misleading advertising, selling defective products, maintaining unfair contract terms, and not repairing a product still under warranty.

“Apple needs to understand that in Brazil there are solid laws and institutions for consumer protection,” Procon executive director Fernando Capez said in a statement. “It needs to respect these laws and these institutions.”

The iPhone 12 launched last year with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable, but no power adapter or earbuds as used to be typical. According to Apple, excluding the power adapter reduces the box size, allowing it to ship more at one time. Smaller packaging also helps reduce annual carbon emissions.

When Procon reportedly contacted Cupertino last year, asking for clarification, the company “never offered a convincing explanation,” according to Brazilian news site Tilt. Apple can still appeal the decision, ask Procon to reevaluate, or settle it in court.

Official 20W USB-C chargers are currently sold separately by Apple for 219 Brazilian real ($40). It’s not inconceivable, though, that the company could ship the products together. France, for instance, insists that every mobile phone include some form of hands-free kit or headset in a bid to protect children under the age of 14 from exposure to electromagnetic waves. A 75,000 euro ($89,000) criminal fine was enough to convince Apple to ship its hardware with EarPods and a Lightning-to-USB-C cable.

High demand for the iPhone 12 allowed Apple to one-up Samsung in Q4 2020 smartphone sales, giving the Cupertino-based manufacturer its first leadership position since Q4 2016. Samsung still kept its position as the largest manufacturer based on full-year results, shipping 253 million smartphones against Apple’s 199.8 million devices.

In December, Italy’s Competition Authority (AGCM) fined Apple €10 million ($12 million) for “aggressive and misleading iphone commercial activities”.
The regulator said the tech company failed to clarify that it’s under certain circumstances, when it advertised several iphone models as water resistant.

On Friday last week, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, ordered Apple to pay $308.5 million for infringement on technology used iTunes and App Store.

The patent has been held by Personalized Media Communications, which brought the case before court in back in 2015, alleging that Apple infringed its patent on FairPlay.

Personalized Media Communication expert explained a file encrypted on FairPlay as a piece of media content or software app, digitally encrypted and can only be decrypted by an authorized user device based on user-specific or device-specific decryption information.

The expert had set a $240 million price tag for what Apple owes Personalized Media Communication in royalties for using its technology. But the jury ordered Apple to pay a running royalty, which is the price determined by the sales of licensed products or processes.

Earlier this month, a US judge certified the class-action status of a consumer-led lawsuit over the butterfly keyboard used in Apple MacBooks, which controversy has been raging for over two years now.

Several MacBook owners in seven US states had filed class-action lawsuits against Apple in 2018 after complaints that the “Butterfly” keyboard fails. They claimed Apple knew the butterfly keyboards in certain MacBook models dating back to 2015 were prone to failure, but decided to continue selling them anyways.

The main problem with the butterfly keyboard is dust getting inside and preventing the keys from working. And replacing it costs about $400 to $700, a huge price many of the Apple users don’t want to pay.

If the class-action lawsuit is successful, affected MacBook owners may be financially compensated. However, it has become a-one-case-too-many for Apple in many of its markets around the world.

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