Friday, February 14, 2014

Judge dismisses Siri advertising misrepresentation lawsuit

It's still not a 100 percent reliable virtual assistant, but as of Friday, AppleInsider reported, Siri was free of legal issues. On Friday,  U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed -- with prejudice -- a lawsuit that had alleged that Apple's iPhone 4S ads had misrepresented the abilities of iOS' Siri personal digital assistant, when Apple released the feature in 2011.

Notably, Apple was quite clear at the time that Siri was beta software. It did not emerge out of beta status until iOS 7 and 2013.

A lawsuit dismissed with prejudice is gone forever. The plaintiff is barred from filing another case on the same claim.

Judge Wilkin said that the lawsuit's claims "non-actionable puffery," ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to show adequate evidence of any fraud in Apple's part. Furthermore, she said, a "reasonable consumer" would not have expected the product to work flawlessly.

The plaintiffs had argued that commercials featuring Siri seemed to show that the feature could handle any query and would respond instantly with an answer, whereas the reality was (and still is) far from that.

While the lawsuit itself, Wilkin said, relied on puffery (which Wikipedia says are claims based on subjective rather than objective views, it seems that Siri's ads relied on the same, in a manner similar to what DisplayMate called marketing puffery over the so-called Retina display.

Still, Wilkin said:
Apple made no promise that Siri would operate without fail. A reasonable consumer would understand that commercials depicting the products they are intended to promote would be unlikely to depict failed attempts.
Wilken also noted that when the lawsuits were filed, Apple was given insufficient time to address the allegations. The lawsuits, were originally filed -- separately -- in 2012 by Frank M. Fazio, Carlisa S. Hamagaki, Daniel M. Balassone, and Benjamin Swartzmann.

Fazio filed suit on the same day he sent a letter notifying the Cupertino-based giant of his intentions, while Balassone and Swartzman did so just four days after they sent Apple a similar letter.

The case was In Re iPhone 4S Consumer Litigation, 12-cv-1127, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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