The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has sued Apple (NASDAQ: Apple [AAPL]) claiming the company uses a software update on its iPhones to stop them working if a cracked screen has been repaired by a third party.
"Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer's warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement yesterday.
The ACCC alleges Apple "bricked", disabled with a software update, hundreds of iPhone and iPads and then refused to unlock the devices because they had been repaired by a third party.
Between September 2014 and February 2016, Apple customers who downloaded software updates then connected their devices to their computers were told their devices "could not be restored and the device had stopped functioning", the ACCC claims.
When customers went to Apple to fix their products they were allegedly told that "no Apple entity ... was required to, or would, provide a remedy" free of charge.
The ACCC accuses Apple of "misleading or deceptive conduct" and making "false or misleading representations to consumers" about its software updates and customers' rights to have their devices repaired by Apple.
The watchdog is seeking fines, injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.
Apple has not commented on the lawsuit.