by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) July 15, 2011
A South Korean lawyer said Friday he plans to launch a class action lawsuit against US technology giant Apple over an iPhone feature that can track the location of users.
Kim Hyung-Suk last month received one million won ($950) in compensation from Apple's Korean unit, following an interim order by a court in the southeastern city of Changwon.
It was the first such payout by the company.
Kim said that as of Friday some 20,000 iPhone users had joined online preparations for a class action suit.
"Users who bought iPhones or iPads before May 1 will be able to join the action," Kim, who works for the Miraelaw legal firm in Changwon, told AFP.
Apple in May released updated software for iPhones to fix "bugs" that resulted in location data being unencrypted and stored for up to a year.
"In the first round of the class action which I plan to file around the end of the month, I plan to include the Apple head office as a target," Kim said.
The lawyer said no representative from Apple Korea was present during his court hearing in Changwon.
"In the action, I said my privacy was breached by Apple because it collected location information without my consent, which is illegal, and asked for damages," Kim said.
Park Jin-Su, spokesman for Changwon District Court, said the compensation order it issued was "a simple, quick decision" that did not involve extensive deliberations on the merits of the complaint.
He told AFP that Apple Korea had failed to raise objections within the legal limit of two weeks after the court order, and therefore the claimant collected the money.
The court spokesman said Apple "has every right to dispute the decision and if it does so, full-fledged hearings and a court ruling would follow".
South Korea has about three million iPhone users.
earlier related report
Apple filed a complaint against HTC in March 2010 with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) accusing the Taiwanese firm of violating ten patents related to the iPhone.
A preliminary finding on Friday reportedly said that HTC had violated two of the patents. HTC maintains none of the ten were infringed.
"We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible," said HTC general counsel Grace Lei in a statement.
"We strongly believe we have alternate solutions in place for the issues raised by Apple. We look forward to resolving this case," she said, without elaborating.
The ITC has already ruled in a separate case that Apple infringed on patents held by HTC subsidiary S3 Graphics, according to the Taiwanese company.
As the legal battle between the rivals escalated, Apple filed a new compliant against HTC with the ITC on Monday involving patents related to iPads and iPhones. It has also lodged a suit against HTC in a US District Court in Delaware.
HTC touts its own brand of smartphones and also makes handsets for a number of leading US companies, including the Nexus One unveiled by Apple rival Google.
Patent lawsuits are a regular occurrence among technology giants. Apple is currently being sued by Nokia for patent infringement, and has fired back a countersuit against the Finnish mobile phone giant.
Last week Apple also hit back at an infringement claim by Samsung, calling for the South Korean company to be investigated.
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