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Apple, AT&T face yet another iPhone MMS lawsuit

The companies have to respond to a third publicized lawsuit claiming that consumers were duped into believing that the iPhone was capable of sending and receiving MMS.


For at least the third time this month, Apple and AT&T are being sued by a consumer complaining of being duped into believing that multimedia messaging, or MMS, was already available on the iPhone.

Filed in the Northern District of Ohio on Wednesday (PDF hosted by Wired), plaintiff Deborah Carr says Apple and AT&T misled the public into believing that the iPhone 3GS was capable of sending and receiving MMS messages on the device. The lawsuit claims that Apple's "print and video advertisements...on television, the Internet, the radio, newspapers, and direct mailers" all mention the availability of MMS on the device.

Two similar cases--one in Illinois and another in Louisiana--were also filed against the companies in August.

According to the latest lawsuit, first reported by InformationWeek, customers were told that MMS would be enabled on June 17, 2009, when iPhone OS 3.0 was released.

That seems rather strange, considering that Apple and AT&T announced on June 8, during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote that MMS would not be available until later in the summer. AT&T confirmed that time frame to Wired on Friday.

"We absolutely will offer MMS on iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G with 3.0 upgrades in late summer, once we complete some system upgrades that will ensure our customers have the best experience with MMS," an AT&T representative said in a statement cited by Wired.

Carr's lawsuit does admit that Apple has a notice on its Web site explaining that support for MMS would be available from AT&T in late summer. However, the suit characterizes the note as a "mouseprint disclaimer," referring to the small print.

Technically, Apple has enabled MMS in iPhone OS 3.0. The proof is that 29 carriers around the world activated MMS on the iPhone when the new operating system was released on June 17. It's not available in the United States because AT&T isn't ready to activate it yet, which was disclosed on June 8.