Judge Sides With Apple and Tosses Siri Lawsuit
A California judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by several plaintiffs that alleged that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) misled them about Siri’s capabilities with the company’s marketing for the iPhone 4S. According to a court filing uncovered by Apple Insider, the four plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint in 2012 that claimed Apple violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiffs also noted that Apple’s “false and misleading” statements about Siri’s capabilities were a “breach of express warranty,” “intentional misrepresentation,” and “negligent misrepresentation.”
The allegations regarding Apple’s “false and misleading” statements centered on the various advertisements that accompanied the launch of the iPhone 4S. Siri — the voice-activated personal assistant that made its debut in 2011 — was considered a major selling point for Apple’s iPhone 4S. Multiple commercials depicted Siri answering users’ natural language queries and performing users’ commands “promptly and with ease.”
Per the plaintiffs’ complaint, “Apple’s marketing gave consumers the false expectation that Siri could perform the basic tasks depicted (e.g. making appointments, finding restaurants, crafting text messages, displaying guitar chords, searching information) in Apple’s advertisements ‘on a consistent basis.’” The plaintiffs noted that they paid a premium price for Apple’s iPhone 4S based on the activities depicted in Apple’s commercials. Some plaintiffs even tried to replicate the exact questions that users were depicted asking Siri in Apple’s commercials, only to be answered with Siri’s default, “I don’t understand” reply.
For example, at least one plaintiff asked Siri the same questions that were used in Apple’s “Rock God” television commercial that can be seen below. The commercial portrays a musician that asks Siri how to play various songs. In response, Siri promptly provides chords and sheet music for the songs. One plaintiff tried to ask Siri about how to play various chords and found that Siri could not answer or understand the questions.
However, in her order granting Apple’s motion to dismiss the amended class action complaint, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken noted that many of Apple’s commercials included a disclaimer that stated “sequences shortened.” The judge also agreed with Apple’s claim that the plaintiffs’ allegations of deception “does not meet the level of specificity” required under the law.
For example, Judge Wilken noted that the part of the plaintiffs’ complaint that cited Apple’s description of Siri as “the coolest feature” and “breakthrough” were “mere puffery and are not actionable” under the law. On the other hand, the judge noted that “Apple would be hard-pressed to defend against an allegation that the overall impact of these commercials and advertisements misled Plaintiffs.” However, the general marketing statements made in the commercials were not “false and misleading” specific claims.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed the plaintiffs’ amended class action complaint with prejudice, which means the plaintiffs have no “leave to amend” or otherwise resubmit their lawsuit. Here’s how Apple traded on Friday.
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