DF Court rules that selling an iPhone without a charger is not abusive

2023-12-06 22:27:20

More than three years since the Apple took the decision to completely remove the charger from the iPhone boxes, the controversy still rages on in the Brazilian judiciary. This time, however, we have good news for Apple: the Court of Justice of the Federal District and Territories (TJDFT) decided that the sale of smartphones without the accessory does not constitute abusive practice or tying.

The decision was handed down by the 1st Appeals Panel of the Special Courts of the DF, which dismissed requests to order Apple to provide an original charger and also to pay compensation for moral damages to a customer who felt injured when purchasing an iPhone 14 Pro Max online and, upon receiving the product, notice the absence of the accessory in the box.

When judging the legal action, which was directed at Apple, Casas Bahia and Via Varejo, the judges took as a basis a summary published by the Uniformization Panel of Special Courts of the Federal District, which considers that “the sale of unattended ‘smartphones’ of the respective power source, with the appropriate information, in a clear and transparent manner, does not constitute an abusive practice”.

In this case, the supplier fulfilled its obligation to provide adequate information regarding the absence of a charger, a fact widely publicized in the media and expressly announced on the website and on the product packaging. The specific adapter manufactured by the appellant is not characterized as an essential item for the operation of the cell phone purchased, mainly because the manufacturer provides an accessory compatible with other devices, which mischaracterizes the tying sale.

Another aspect judged was whether the sale of the smartphone without a charger would constitute a tying sale — an argument that was also considered unfounded by the judges. In the understanding of the judiciary in the federative unit, “the sale of cell phones without a plug charger does not constitute tying and, therefore, an abusive practice, if the supplier previously informs that the acquisition of the device is not accompanied by a charging device”.

The main argument to support this thesis is the fact that Apple does not condition the use of the charger it sells on the device — in fact, the USB-C cable available in the box works with accessories from other brands. Apple also correctly informed consumers regarding the absence of the accessory, which was also widely reported in the press.

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The predominant understanding is that there is no bundling, but a “mere option of the company within free competition” to offer the cell phone without the charger together. This way, the consumer has the option of purchasing either the product from Apple itself or from its numerous competitors — which would favor the company that best meets their desires.

Will this story ever be overcome?

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