It's being reported this afternoon that Apple has agreed to pay $53 million to resolve a consumer class-action lawsuit alleging the company relied on faulty indicators showing that iPhones and iPods were exposed to water to deny customers' warranty claims. One of Apple's patents covering the indicator technology was just approved earlier this month.
According to the Bloomberg report, "consumers may be eligible for $300 depending on the device model they owned, according to documents filed in federal court in San Francisco. Lawyers for consumers say the liquid submersion indicators on iPhones and iPods could be triggered by moisture during ordinary use and falsely indicated devices had been damaged by liquid spills or submersion, problems that were excluded from coverage under Apple's warranty."
One of Apple's patents regarding the water indicator is titled "Electronic device moisture indicators." Apple just received a granted patent for this on May 17. The patent background discusses the moisture indicators as follows:
"A large manufacturer of electronic devices can expect to receive returns from customers that have exposed their devices to excessive amounts of water. Often the damaged devices are dry when they are returned. To determine whether or not a device has been submerged in liquid, manufacturers often include moisture infiltration indicators (sometimes called "water dots" or "moisture indicators") in their devices. If the water dot in a returned device has not been activated, the manufacturer can conclude that damage to the device was caused by dropping the device onto a hard surface or another damaging event other than liquid exposure. If the water dot has been activated, the manufacturer can conclude that the device has failed due to excessive exposure to liquid."
More on this could be found in Apple's patent 8,440,274.
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