Norway Supreme Court Signs Off On Apple's Harassment Of An Independent Repair Shop

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

Apple has never looked too kindly upon users actually repairing their own devices. The company's ham-fisted efforts to shut down, sue, or otherwise imperil third-party repair shops are legendary. As are the company's efforts to force recycling shops to shred Apple products (so they can't be refurbished and re-used). As is Apple's often comical attacks on essential right to repair legislation, which only sprung up after companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, John Deere, and others created a grass-roots "right to repair" counter movement via their attempts to monopolize repair.

Since 2017 or so, Apple has been harassing the owner of an independent repair shop in Norway named Henrik Huseby. After Norway customs officials seized a shipment of 63 iPhone 6 and 6S refurbished, replacement screens on their way to Huseby's repair shop, Apple threatened to sue the store owner unless they agreed to stop using aftermarket screens and pay a hefty settlement. Huseby decided to fight the case, and despite being out-manned five Apple lawyers to one, managed to win in 2018. At least initially.

Apple then took its complaint to Norway's Court of Appeals, claiming that the refurbished parts used by Huseby "unlawfully appropriated Apple's trademark." The appeals court ruled in Apple's favor, and this week, the Norway Supreme Court upheld that decision (pdf). Needless to say, the US and overseas right to repair movement isn't particularly impressed by the court sanctioned bullying of a small business owner:

Apple has continually tried to claim that Huseby was importing "counterfeit" iPhone screens. Huseby, in turn, states he's simply using refurbished screens, and at no point has tried to even advertise them as "genuine" replacement parts from Apple. Again, while Apple engages in a lot of rhetoric to the contrary, the motivation here is to abuse copyright to monopolize and drive up the cost of repair:

"Apple uses copyright law as a “weapon” by putting multiple logos and QR-codes on each component part of its screens, knowing that the Chinese grey market will not specifically cater to repairers in other countries that zealously enforce copyright. This creates a kind of “roulette” for repairers who want to import affordable, refurbished parts from China. Apple can then ask customs authorities in these countries to seize refurbished parts shipments.

Meanwhile, Apple refuses to sell genuine spare parts to independent repairers in Europe. So they have a choice: buy either inferior generic parts or refurbished or after-market parts, like the kind Huseby bought.

While the company has made some caveat-laden concessions, the company continues to fiercely lobby against right to repair laws in 18 states around the United States, all of which require hardware vendors like Apple sell replacement parts and repair tools to the general public and independent repair companies. And ironically, the harder Apple and other companies fight against this trend, the more support they drive support toward these right to repair bills.

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Filed Under: aftermarket, diy, henrik huseby, norway, ownership, refurbishment, right to repair, trademark
Companies: apple


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  • icon
    Koby (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 7:33am

    Hardware manufacturers have provided some bogus reasons for why device repair should not be allowed, ranging from security, to safety issues for farm equipment. But the longer these small repair shops stay in business, the more it exposes the manufacturer concerns as unreasonable. It's sad to see these small businesses caught up in the David vs Goliath unwinnable situations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 5 Jun 2020 @ 9:29am

    It's hard to believe that things have gotten to the point that anyone even questions the right to repair (or do anything one wishes) with someing one paid money for much less that sort of thinking has advanced to the point that it has gained legal traction. Fuck that. The public should not be obligated to support a business model that relies on legally enforcing what customers do with things they've purchased, who they choose to fix things they've purchased or claims they don't really own things they've purchased, (including software). Legality and morality are not the same thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2020 @ 10:06am

    Replaced the haft three times and the head twice, but it's still my hammer. In what way does refurbishing previously authorized parts make them unauthorized parts?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 11:04am

    This is why I refuse to buy Apple products

    Only fanbois like them, anyway. I can't find a reason to like the company, much less buy their overpriced crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bobob, 5 Jun 2020 @ 11:22am

      Re: This is why I refuse to buy Apple products

      I am not about to defend apple, but the problem extends way beyond apple. No matter what you buy, there is likely going to be someone or some group of people trying to take you out of the loop with respect to fixing, modifying or making their product more useful. Consider your car as an example.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        fairuse (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 8:51pm

        Re: Re: This is why I refuse to buy Apple products

        The car example.

        Old car under 100,000 miles on it started breaking. Some parts warranty, some parts not covered. Tried to get codes on out of the car's computer each time but got nothing - towed to dealer. There is not a single system on cars that are repairable outside the dealer -- No information.

        Her brand new car is a spaceship of screens and driver awareness software and auto safety systems. I told her to get the best extended coverage offered by Subaru. Prepay the required checkup visits. No way to avoid this expensive feature. It is pretty like a race horse and high priced to operate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 5 Jun 2020 @ 11:49am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ar2Gxw8mIQ

    Louis Rossman - who testified in the Norway trial has a good video about why that case was not as simple as you are saying.

    Huesby may not have been representing the parts as genuine, but he was using counterfeit parts - parts that weren't Apple OEM but had the Apple OEM markings on them.

    Huesby wasn't telling consumers they were real - but they were still counterfeit parts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2020 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      Did Huesby know they were counterfeit? If not, I don't see why Apple is going after him.

      Thinking about it from another angle, if everyone knows they're counterfeit parts, does it matter at that point? There's no customer confusion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Agammamon, 6 Jun 2020 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Apple isn't free of slime here either. Not by a long shot.

        They went after Huesby because he was vulnerable. The parts suppliers are out of Apple's reach.

        Its the same sort of shit any government does too - too hard to collect sales tax from individuals? Then hit the stores for it. Can't outlaw porn - hit the payment processors.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2020 @ 12:16pm

    Right, but not the ability to repair.

    Apple is doing its best to ensure that even in states where it is the law that you can repair a device you paid for, you are unable to do so. They are harassing suppliers, youtube repairpeople, and anyone else who threatens their profit margin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    loganethan@getnada.com (profile), 8 Jun 2020 @ 3:55am

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