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Friday, August 26, 2005, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Judge approves settlement in iPod class action suit

A San Mateo County judge on Thursday approved the settlement of a class action suit that will offer relief to as many as 1.3 million iPod owners who may have been victim to poor or defective batteries.

The original lawsuit, filed on behalf of US residents, alleged that Apple failed to disclose the battery limitations of its first three iPod models.

"All these people are going to get relief, and we think that's a big victory for them," Steve Williams, lead counsel for the suit, and an attorney for Burlingame's Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy told the San Mateo Times.

The settlement applies to consumers who purchased an iPod model on or before May 31, 2004 and saw the charge of their iPod battery drop to four hours or less on a third-generation iPod, or five hours or less on one of the first two generation models.

Under the settlement, owners of either a first- or second-generation model are entitled to $25 cash or $50 credit at the Apple store. Meanwhile, owners who actually paid Apple to repair a battery in one of the players will be entitled to up to half of that cost back.

Owners of third-generation iPod models are entitled to a free replacement battery if the battery fails.

In order to make claims, iPod owners must submit individual claim forms for each iPod they own as instructed by the Apple iPod Settlement Web site.

For third-generation iPod claims, the postmark deadline for submitting a claim is two years after the original purchase date of the iPod or September 30, 2005, whichever is later. For all other claims, the postmark deadline for submitting a claim is September 30, 2005.

In addition to reimbursing consumers, the original suit also sought attorneys' fees and out-of-pocket expenses in the amount of $2,768,000, and a $1,500 incentive payment to each of the suit's class representatives. Apple did not oppose either reward.

According to lawyers, the settlement could cost Apple as much as $15m in total, which is considerably less than the $100m figured quoted when the settlement was conditionally approved in June