Apple Sued An Independent Norwegian Repair Shop In Bid To Monopolize Repair — And Lost


A few years ago, annoyance at John Deere’s obnoxious tractor DRM birthed a grassroots tech movement. John Deere’s decision to implement a lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops), they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other rabble rousers.

Apple’s efforts in particular to monopolize repair run deep. The company has worked alongside the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to seize counterfeit parts in the United States and raid shops of independent iPhone repair professionals. FOIA efforts to obtain details on just how deeply rooted Apple is in ICE’s “Operation Chain Reaction” have been rejected. The efforts to “combat counterfeit goods” often obscures what this is really about for Apple: protecting a lucrative repair monopoly and thwarting anybody that might dare repair Apple devices for less money.

And Apple’s efforts on this front are a decidedly global affair. More recently, Apple has been harassing an independent repair shop owner in Norway named Henrik Huseby. After Norway customs officials seized a shipment of 63 iPhone 6 and 6S replacement screens on their way to Huseby’s repair shop, Apple threatened to sue the store owner unless they agreed to stop using aftermarket screens and pay a hefty settlement:

“In order to avoid being sued, Apple asked Huseby for “copies of invoices, product lists, order forms, payment information, prints from the internet and other relevant material regarding the purchase [of screens], including copies of any correspondence with the supplier … we reserve the right to request further documentation at a later date.”

The letter, sent by Frank Jorgensen, an attorney at the Njord law firm on behalf of Apple, included a settlement agreement that also notified him the screens would be destroyed. The settlement agreement said that Huseby agrees “not to manufacture, import, sell, market, or otherwise deal with any products that infringe Apple’s trademarks,” and asked required him to pay 27,700 Norwegian Krone ($3,566) to make the problem go away without a trial.”

How sweet. Huseby decided to fight the case, and despite being out-manned five Apple lawyers to one, managed to win. And despite Apple’s ongoing claims that it’s simply engaged in a moral crusade against counterfeiters, Huseby’s lawyer is quick to reiterate what Apple’s methods are really all about:

“In this case, Apple indirectly proves what they really want,” Per Harald Gjerstad, Huseby’s lawyer, told me in an email. “They want monopoly on repairs so they can keep high prices. And they therefore do not want to sell spare parts to anyone other than ‘to themselves.’”

Apple’s real motivation is the protection of their lucrative repair monopoly enjoyed thanks to their “Authorized Service Provider” program, which requires that repair companies become authorized by paying Apple a fee, only buy “authorized” repair parts from Apple at a fixed rate, and limits what repairs a third-party vendor can actually perform. Meanwhile, Apple continues to lobby against right to repair laws in 18 states around the United States, all of which require hardware vendors sell replacement parts and repair tools to the general public and independent repair companies.

Ironically, the harder Apple and other companies fight against this trend, the more support they drive toward these right to repair bills.


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