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Apple settles split cord MagSafe lawsuit

Apple has reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit targeting older models of its MagSafe power adapters. Those who bought a replacement may now be entitled to a full or partial refund.

Apple has reached a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit involving older models of its MagSafe power adapters.

Those particular adapters, the 60W and 85W versions that shipped on earlier models of the company's MacBook and MacBook Pro portable computers, were prone to splitting and became the target of a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed that the particular adapter design was defective to the point of where it "dangerously frays, sparks and prematurely fails to work." The 2009 filing accused Apple of knowing about, and misrepresenting the problem, claims Apple denied in court.'s Web site notes the settlement is "not an admission of wrongdoing."

In a new Apple support page related to the issue, which was spotted by AppleInsider, the company details how the faulty adapters can undergo "strain relief," a split that formed where the cord met the magnetic power plug housing. Apple has since redesigned its adapters, moving from a "T" shape to an "L" design that does not put strain on the connection point.

Here's what it looks like on the "T" style adapter, as per Apple's support page:

A MagSafe power adapter with "strain relief" splitting.
A MagSafe power adapter with "strain relief" splitting. Apple

Apple notes that users with the issue can take it in for an inspection at one of the company's retail stores, calling up its technical support line, or visiting an Apple-authorized service provider.

The settlement opens up additional avenues for those who ended up purchasing replacements after the problem occurred. This is broken down into three categories of cash payment customers can get, depending on when they purchased the replacement adapter. If it was within the first year they bought the computer, they get whatever they paid for a replacement, up to $79. Those who purchased an adapter two or three years after buying their computer can get $50 and $35 respectively. All those options require proof of purchasing the replacement adapter, and some paperwork.

Apple introduced its proprietary MagSafe power adapter in early 2006 as a replacement for its socket-style plug. The technology's main advantage over its predecessor was that the cord would break away when tugged out from sideways directions, keeping the computer from being pulled with it. The previous design needed to be pulled straight out in order to be disconnected.

The technology was patented in 2007, and later became the focus of an unrelated lawsuit from Apple targeting SanHo, a company that was selling MagSafe-compatible power adapters. Last year, SanHo announced it would cease that activity and has since come up with an alternate way of providing external battery technology to Apple notebook users. Apple also took aim at three separate companies in a patent infringement suit last year that claimed resellers were mimicking the look and feel of the company's power iconic white power adapters.

An Apple representative declined to comment on the settlement.