Earlier this month we brought you news that Apple had agreed to pay a AU$2.25 million (US$2.28 million) fine for its marketing of the new iPad as a 4G capable device in Australia. The fine was part of a settlement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Various Australian news sources are reporting today that the Australian courts have approved the deal.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Apple will pay the AU$2.25 million plus an additional AU$300,000 in court costs, bringing the total payment to AU$2.55 million (US$2.59 million). ACCC Chairman Rod Sims praised the decision and said that he was “delighted” with the fine and with how quickly his agency moved against Apple following the release of the new iPad. In the ruling that approved the settlement and ordered the fine, presiding judge Mordecai Bromberg said that Apple’s transgressions in this case were “not trivial” and that “Apple’s desire for global uniformity was given a greater priority than the need to ensure compliance with the Australian Consumer Law.”
One of the central features of the new iPad, which came out in March, is its 4G LTE connectivity. As such, that feature was one of the main focuses of Apple’s early marketing of the device. Unfortunately for Apple, though, the new iPad only works on a handful of carriers’ 4G networks, all of which are in North America (the U.S. and Canada, specifically). Though two of Australia’s carriers have 4G LTE networks in place, the new iPad is not compatible with it.
When the iPad launched, the 4G marketing was retained in many countries where there were no compatible 4G networks – including Australia, the UK, Sweden, and others. The ACCC took issue with the iPad’s marketing in Australia, calling it “misleading.” In response, Apple agreed to refund Australian customers who felt they’d been misled and rebranded the 4G-capable iPad as the “iPad WiFi + Celluar” worldwide. Nevertheless, mediation talks between Apple and the ACCC broke down, sending the case on to the courts. Though Apple initially tried to argue its case – claiming that some of Australia’s iPad-compatible cellular networks were 4G even though they weren’t marketed as such – they ultimately agreed to settle.
The judgment is embedded below: