Judge Gives Go-Ahead For Apple/AT&T/iPhone Class Action Suit

Three years after the first lawsuits were filed against Apple and AT&T alleging the two companies of antitrust violation, a judge in California has given the green light to consolidate several of the cases into a single class action suit.

At the heart of the suit is the exclusivity deal made between Apple and AT&T that made the cell carrier the only wireless provider for the iPhone in the U.S. The suit claims that because the two companies had secretly made a five-year deal, anyone who purchased an iPhone in 2007 and agreed to a two-year contract with AT&T had, in effect, actually signed up for five years of AT&T.

The suit also takes issue with the fact that all applications for the iPhone must be approved and purchased/downloaded from Apple. Plaintiffs allege that these actions hurt competition and drove up prices for consumers. The suit is seeking both an injunction from Apple selling so-called “locked” iPhones and to allow users to install applications purchased from sources other than Apple’s App Store.

Those represented in the class action include anyone who has ever purchased an iPhone with a two-year AT&T agreement.

Judge OKs iPhone class action against Apple, AT&T [AP]