Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was ordered to face a U.S. federal lawsuit claiming it failed to tell consumers that its messaging system would block them from receiving text messages if they switched to Android-based smartphones from iPhones.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California said Apple must face plaintiff Adrienne Moore's claim that the message blocking interfered with her contract with Verizon Wireless (VZ.N) for wireless service, which she kept after switching in April to a Samsung (005930.KS) Galaxy S5 from an iPhone 4.
Moore, who seeks class-action status and unspecified damages, claimed that Apple failed to disclose how its iOS 5 software operating system would obstruct the delivery of "countless" messages from other Apple device users if iPhone users switched to non-Apple devices.
In a Monday night decision, Koh said Moore deserved a chance to show Apple disrupted her wireless service contract and violated a California unfair competition law, by blocking messages meant for her.
"Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple's intentional acts have caused an actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship," Koh wrote.
The judge also dismissed some claims tied to another California consumer protection law.
Apple did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment. Roy Katriel, a lawyer for Moore, did not immediately respond to similar requests.
In court papers, Apple said it never claimed that its iMessage service and Messages application, which ran with iOS 5, would recognize when iPhone users switched to rival devices.
"Apple takes customer satisfaction extremely seriously, but the law does not provide a remedy when, as here, technology simply does not function as plaintiff subjectively believes it should," the Cupertino, California-based company said.
For its fiscal year ended Sept. 27, Apple reported sales of 169.2 million iPhones.
Apple now has an online tool, (here), to help people who switch to non-Apple smartphones retrieve messages from iPhone users.
The case is Moore et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-02269.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Christian Plumb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)