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Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 06:35 am PT (09:35 am ET)

Apple faces new class-action suit over locked iPhones

Apple Inc. is facing yet another class-action lawsuit over its iPhone, this time from a New York State resident who claims the company failed to adequately disclose to consumers that the handset is locked to AT&T's network and that using the device internationally would result in substantial data roaming charges.

Herbert H. Kliegerman's 9-page complaint, filed Monday in a New York Supreme Court, accuses Apple of engaging in deceptive and misleading practices by failing to properly disclose to iPhone buyers that their phones would be locked to only work with AT&T SIM cards and that the unlock codes would not be provided.

Approximately two weeks after purchasing his iPhone, Kliegerman traveled to Mexico for a week where he continued to use his iPhone to check emails and surf the web. He did so, according to the suit, after reading a statement on Apple's iPhone website stating that "[y]ou can browse the Internet and send emails as often as you like without being charged extra."

Upon returning from Mexico, Kliegerman claims to have received a bill from AT&T with $2,000 in international data roaming charges. Being a frequently traveler, he turned to the wireless carrier in order to obtain an unlock code for his iPhone, but was informed that such unlock codes would not be provided to him, according to the suit.

Kliegerman and his attorneys at Randall S. Newman, P.C argue that had AT&T allowed him to purchase and use a SIM card from a foreign wireless carrier, he would have been able to utilize iPhone internationally at fees substantially less than the $2,000 charged by AT&T. They note that AT&T has always provided unlock codes for non-iPhone handsets in the past when requested by a customer.

"As a result of [Apple's] deceptive and misleading acts, members of the Class have been injured because they are unable to unlock their phones for use with non-AT&T SIM cards," the suit states.

As a result, Kliegerman is asking the Court to award a judgement barring Apple from selling locked iPhones, as well as an order requiring the company to provide unlock codes to all iPhone owners. He's also requesting that Apple be forced to adequately disclose to New York consumers the fees charged for using the iPhone's data features while traveling internationally.

For Apple, Kliegerman's formal complaint represents the third class-action lawsuit to be filed against the company in regards to the iPhone in just four weeks. Two previous suits — one filed in the Bay Area and another in Illinois — similarly charged the company with unfairly steering its customers towards buying frequent and expensive battery replacements for the handset.