Apple sued a tiny Norwegian repair shop – and lost
It’s common knowledge Apple is precious about iPhone repairs. It wants customers to get the best possible service and if a repair shop wants to fix an iPhone user’s screen, for example, it has to go through a lengthy authorisation process to become an authorised Apple repair store.
So it’s not surprising to discover that, last year, Apple took legal action against a small, unauthorised repair shop in Norway for importing “counterfeit”iPhone screen replacements. What is surprising, however, is that the tech giant has seemingly just lost the case.
According to Motherboard, Apple sued the repair shop owner, Henrik Huseby, after Norwegian customs seized iPhone 6 and 6S replacement screens that were on their way from Asia last year. Motherboard explains that Apple offered to settle if Huseby did “not […] manufacture, import, sell, market or otherwise deal with any products that infringe Apple’s trademark,” and slammed him with a 27,700 Norwegian Krone (£2,494) fine.
Instead of settling, Huseby decided to fight the case and the details are in this filing, in Norwegian. Importing screen replacements isn’t illegal in Norway, but the replacement screens sent to Huseby had an Apple logo on the inside marked over with a marker pen, covered up because the screens aren’t being marketed as Apple screens.
Norwegian law “does not prohibit a Norwegian mobile repair person from importing mobile screens from Asian manufacturers that are 100% compatible and completely identical to Apple’s own iPhone screens, so long as Apple’s trademark is not applied to the product,” the report reads.
It’s a murky case because, technically, EU trademark law prohibits the importation of refurbished screens that have trademarked logos on them. But, because Huseby’s screens didn’t have a visible Apple logo on the front of the screen, the court sided with him. Apple is now appealing the decision.
A part is generally considered counterfeit if it is pretending to be a product that it is not, such as a fake Apple screen being advertised as one made by Apple. Huseby’s replacement screens imported from China, however, weren’t.
While it’s a win for Huseby, Apple is fervently fighting the right to repair bills that are being pushed into law in the US. Currently, many US vendors do not have the legal right to purchase spare parts or even access service manuals, with raids on shops apparently being carried out.
Things are a little different in the UK. Unauthorised repair shops that carry out screen replacements aren’t illegal. Of course, your Apple warranty may be void if you choose to repair your screen from a third-party store, but there isn’t actually anything wrong with doing so and that onus is on you.
The result of the case comes just days after iPhone 8 owners, with third-party screens, found that they no longer worked after the iOS 11.3 update began rolling out.
We have contacted Apple for comment.