Apple at risk for three class action suits over geolocation

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Apple is currently embroiled in litigation of all types worldwide. Apple rivals like Samsung and HTC have sued and counter-sued alleging patent violations, but Apple’s biggest threat may come from ordinary consumers.

In April, a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple in federal court in Tampa, Florida, alleging that Apple tracks and records the locations of its consumers without permission. The trial lawyers representing the plaintiffs estimate that one-third to one-half of the nation’s 60 million iPhone users could potentially be parties.

The potential cost to Apple could be significant. Also significant is the possibility that success in the U.S. case could trigger similar lawsuits in other countries. Another class action suit has been filed in Puerto Rico contending that Apple was releasing consumer location information to third parties without authorization. In that case, Apple is facing allegations of fraud and abuse.

Most recently, a suit has been developing in South Korea. A South Korean attorney has collected 27,000 signatures on a petition seeking co-complainants for a privacy rights class action lawsuit. If Apple were to lose that case, the cost to Apple could be as high as $24.6 million. The danger is not from having to pay any judgment, as Apple can certainly afford it.

Rather, the danger is in a trend of costly international consumer lawsuits developing, as well as potential damage to Apple’s business goodwill and popularity with consumers.

Source: Mobile Magazine, “South Korea Prepping for Major Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple,” Silvia Pikal, Aug. 17, 2011