Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg delivered his judgment in the dispute between Apple and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today. The ruling leaves Apple with a $2.25 million fine and an order to pay $300,000 in costs.
In his judgment, Justice Bromberg cited the deliberate nature of Apple’s conduct, and the fact that the company did not desist from promoting its new iPad as “WiFi + 4G” when the ACCC raised its concerns as reasons for the fine.
“In my view, the risk of a contravention of s33 of the ACL [Australian Consumer Law] was reasonably obvious, and must have been recognised as substantial by those within Apple familiar with the Australian market’s understanding of the term ‘4G’,” Justice Bromberg wrote.
“In that context, and in the absence of any other explanation, the facts to which I have just referred suggest that Apple’s desire for global uniformity was given a greater priority than the need to ensure compliance with the ACL.
“Conduct of that kind is serious and unacceptable.”
Justice Bromberg said that he had taken into account the actions of Apple to display a statement on its website and at points of sale that stated that the iPad is not compatible with Australian 4G networks.
Writing about the size of the fine, Justice Bromberg said that it is neither manifestly inadequate nor manifestly excessive, but expressed concern that the size and financial strength of Apple diminishes the impact of the penalty.
“The fact of the litigation and the media attention which it has drawn will no doubt be a sober reminder to Apple, and others who rely on their brand image that, as well as a penalty, there will likely be an intangible cost involved in a contravention of the ACL,” he wrote.
Both Apple and the ACCC had agreed to the size of the fine two weeks ago.
The full judgment is available here.