Lawsuit against Apple continues as a class action

The suit contends that Apple made a secret deal with AT&T Mobility to restrict voice and data services for the iPhone for five years

A lawsuit against Apple and AT&T Mobility will proceed as a class action, following a ruling in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, court documents show.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2007, contends that iPhone customers had to subscribe to a two-year agreement with AT&T Mobility, and that the two companies secretly agreed to "technologically restrict voice and data service" for five years.

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An amended version of the lawsuit filed in June 2008 says that the defendants did not disclose they had a five-year agreement -- believed to expire in 2012 -- that locked the plaintiffs into using AT&T Mobility's voice and data services beyond their two-year contracts.

The lawsuit also alleges that Apple "monopolized" the aftermarket for third-party iPhone applications. Also, it says an iPhone would be unusable if a customer had unlocked the phone intending to use it with another service provider.

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware wrote that the class for the suit includes people who bought an iPhone in the U.S. on a two-year contract with AT&T Mobility for voice and data service from June 29, 2007 until now. The lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of Paul Holman of Washington state and Lucy Rivello of California.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Apple from selling phones that can only be used with AT&T Mobility SIM cards or releasing software updates that block iPhone from functioning that have been unlocked, among other requests, according to an amended complaint filed in June 2008.

Apple and AT&T Mobility representatives could not be immediately reached for comment Monday morning.

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