On 28 March 2012 the ACCC made an application to the Federal Court in Melbourne for orders against Apple Pty Limited and Apple (Inc) (Apple) for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The ACCC alleged that the promotion of the "iPad with WiFi + 4G" by Apple is misleading because it represents to consumers that the product can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case. The ACCC alleged that Apple's conduct contravenes sections 18, 29(1)(a), 29(1)(g) and 33 of the ACL. The ACCC sought urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of the device, as well as final orders including injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected.
The Court accepted an undertaking from Apple Pty Ltd that until further order or hearing, Apple would as soon as is reasonably practicable and by no later than 5 April 2012:
- display the statement: "This product supports very fast cellular networks. It is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and WiMAX Networks" in its promotional materials, website and online;
- distribute signage with the same wording to resellers to be displayed at points of sale; and
- contact by email any persons for whom Apple Pty Limited has an email address and who have purchased the "iPad with WiFI + 4G" between 16 March and 28 March 2012 (including pre-orders prior to 16 March 2012) including statements to the effect of the one above, and that such persons are entitled to return the product and request a refund within a timeframe specified in the email.
A directions hearing was scheduled for 16 April 2012, a mediation ordered for 18 April 2012, and a hearing on liability was set down commencing 2 May 2012.