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Repair shop loses legal battle with Apple over 'counterfeit' iPhone screen import

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In the conclusion of a two-year back-and-forth legal battle, an independent repair shop in Norway has lost an appeal over the import so-called "counterfeit" Apple iPhone screens.

In a ruling passed down on Thursday, an appeals court affirmed a judgement over independent repair shop owner Henrik Huseby. Huseby is now on the hook for not just destroying what Apple calls "counterfeit" iPhone screens he bought from China, but also for Apple's legal costs of about $26,000.

Huseby owns a small electronics repair shop called PCKompaniet in Norway. To supply parts for that business, he ordered a shipment of 63 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s replacement screens from Asia, which were seized by Norwegian customs agents in July 2017

Following the Norwegian government informing Apple, the company had a lawyer represented the company propose a settlement. This settlement, as pitched, entailed Huseby paying $3,500, destroying the screens, and promising to no longer sell or deal with any products that infringe Apple's trademarks.

Huseby refused the settlement and took Apple to court. The case hinged on the question of how exactly Huseby obtained the Chinese parts, and how they were marked.

The phone screens in question were Apple parts, refurbished by Chinese resellers, but with the branding obscured. Reports vary whether the branding were completely obliterated, or just marked over with a permanent marker.

Huseby's legal team said that the obfuscation of the label removed them from Apple's control. They reasoned that any branding would be invisible to the consumer, and since there was no possibility that they could be confused with "official" screens, and as Huseby would not be representing them as "official" screens supported by Apple they were not "counterfeit" in any way,

The first ruling on the matter led to a win for Huseby. However, Apple appealed, and won a verdict of the destruction, plus payment of Apple's legal costs of about $12,000.

"We're sending strength and moral support to Henrik Huseby today," Advocacy group Right to Repair Europe said in a statement to The Register. "He took a stand where other businesses were afraid to, and he will pay a heavy price."

Apple has frequently cracked down on suspected counterfeiters, including the seizure of more than $1 million in fake accessories from a London warehouse in 2017 and general warnings about third party and counterfeit power accessories. It's even gone after counterfeit accessories for sale on Amazon.

Apple has also historically opposed "Right to Repair" laws, which have been proposed in 20 U.S. states.