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Class Action Against Sprint Settled with Defense Agreement to Unlock Cell Phones of Departing Customers

Tentative Class Action Settlement Requires Sprint to Unlock Phones so they can be Utilized with Competitors’ Services and May Impact Similar Industry Class Action Lawsuits

The New York Times reports today that Sprint’s defense team has negotiated a tentative class action settlement of a California class action challenging the company’s practice of “locking” its phones so that they cannot be used on competing networks. According to Katie Hafner’s article, the class action challenged Sprint’s practice of “locking” its phones so that it could not operate with other networks. The terms of the class action settlement, awaiting final approval by a California state court, would require Sprint “to provide departing customers with the code necessary to unlock their phones’ software to the handsets they own can be used on competitors’ networks.” However, “The codes will not work on Nextel-branded phones made by Motorola that use another network protocol, called iDen. Nor will the cods enable customers to switch to AT&T or T-Mobile, as those carriers use network technology known as global system for mobile communication, or GSM.” Nonetheless, the article speculates that the settlement may impact similar class action lawsuits, such as those challenging the Apple iPhone.

Ms. Hafner’s article, entitled “Sprint Nextel Settles Lawsuit Over Switching to New Carriers,” may be found in Section C of the October 27, 2007 edition of the New York Times.