Apple is not a stranger to defending its laundry list of trademarks, even in international markets. And the company has always preferred that repairs of its devices be handled by its own shops or Apple-certified options.
In those cases, where repairs take place in its own retail stores or at Apple-certified repair shops, the company is aware that the pieces being used are not third-party aftermarket parts not certified by Apple. But that doesn’t mean that third-party repair shops are going to shut down their own efforts to repair iPhones, especially considering that for some customers they are the closest and best options for fixing a damaged smartphone or other device.
As Motherboard reports today, Apple isn’t going to stop going after some third-party repair shops, either. Last year, Henrik Huseby received a letter from Apple that demanded he stopped using aftermarket iPhone displays for repairs. What’s more, Apple was also seeking just under $4,000 in damages, and a signed letter that he would stop using aftermarket repair parts from that point forward.
Huseby decided he wouldn’t sign the letter or pay the requested money, and instead took the effort to court when Apple sued him for refusing. While Apple had five different lawyers working on the matter in Norway, it appears the court actually sided with Huseby, who won the battle.
In this particular case, which caught Apple’s ire, Huseby ordered replacement iPhone display from Hong Kong: 66 displays in total for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Those displays were subsequently flagged and sized by custom agents in Norway because the Apple logo on the inside component “had been covered up by ink marker. The ink marker could be removed with rubbing alcohol”. According to Huseby, the displays are “refurbished screens assembled by a third party”.
In the court’s decision, the Apple logos were covered up because the idea was to never market those refurbished displays as genuine Apple products. That led to the court’s decision to side with Huseby in the case.
“Apple makes its own replacement parts available only to Apple Stores and shops in its “Authorized Service Provider” program. By becoming “authorized,” repair companies have to pay Apple a fee (and buy parts from the company at a fixed rate.) They are also restricted from performing certain types of repairs; there are many types of repairs—most commonly ones that require microsoldering for Logic Board damage—that independent companies can do that Apple itself does not do, so there are many reasons why a repair shop might want to remain independent.”
This is a big win for Huseby, and while a ruling like this would have big implications in the United States if it were decided here, that’s not really the case this time around. This decision will only have any ripples in Norway. Still, Apple’s fight against right-to-repair in the U.S. is well-documented, and it doesn’t appear to be a situation that Apple is going to change its mind on any time soon.
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