Hot iPad lawsuit turns Apple's ads into ammo

Irked owners revise class-action complaint, cite Apple's TV ads showing iPads outdoors

A trio of iPad owners who sued Apple last summer because their tablets overheated have added Apple's own television and Web commercials to their ammunition, court documents show.

Last week Jacob Balthazar, Claudia Keller and John Browning amended their original federal complaint to cite Apple's iPad ads as instrumental in their decisions to buy the tablet.

"Apple released a commercial depicting use of the iPad in various places, including outdoor locations such as a sidewalk cafe, front steps of a building, and on a grassy lawn, among others," the new complaint stated. "Apple also posted a commercial on its website depicting the iPad being used in a variety of ways, including outdoors while affixed to the dashboard of a car and the gas tank of a motorcycle."

Keller and the others said that they had purchased the iPad after seeing such commercials on television or Apple's site.

"Less than a month after purchase, Plaintiff Claudia Keller attempted to use the iPad outdoors next to her pool in an ambient temperature of less than 90 degrees," stated the complaint. "After less than 5 minutes of use, the device displayed an overheating message and then shut-down."

The three have accused Apple of fraud and deceptive advertising, and of violating California's consumer protection and unfair business practices laws. They want the case awarded class-action status, and have asked for compensatory and punitive damages, "in an amount appropriate to punish Defendant and to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct in the future."

Meanwhile, reports of overheating have trickled into Apple's support forums since the lawsuit was first filed in July.

"Why does my iPad keep overheating? I'm only outside for a few minutes and it shuts off," said a user identified only as "Drew931".

Others on the same thread countered that even under extreme conditions, their iPads worked flawlessly. "I live in Fort Worth, TX and use my iPad for business...I am a contractor and am out in the 100+ degree heat (23 out of the last 24 have been well over 100) for long periods every day with no issues," said "celliott147" last August.

The problem hasn't stopped consumers from buying the iPad. Earlier this week, Apple announced that it had sold 4.2 million tablets last quarter, generating $2.8 billion in revenues, or about 14% of the $20.3 billion Apple generated during the three months.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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