Not long after settling “Antennagate” Apple has become the target of another class action lawsuit. The latest complaint involves the Iphone 4S and the performance, or alleged failure to perform, of Siri. Plaintiff is upset by more than just the fact that Siri might not call him a Rock God. (Watch how you can be called an Advertising Law God here) The complaint alleges that Siri fails to perform many of the functions shown in television advertising, including responding promptly and correctly to queries for directions or store locations
Now neither of us own a 4S, though one of our spouse’s does, but in that case any failure on Siri’s part is purely a problem of user failure. So we can’t comment on the merits of plaintiff’s allegations. However, the case does serve as a reminder about the perils of product demonstrations. Unlike claims where there is often room to argue about what is being said and understood, a product demonstration is probably the ultimate example of an express claim about a product’s performance. Many a product demonstration has landed a company in hot water — marbles are in the soup; photographs are retouched beyond what is natural; product performance is simulated in a way that exceeds what consumers can expect.
Product performance demonstrations are a simple, yet powerful way to advertise your product and there is nothing inherently unlawful or suspect about them. Yet they can be a trap for the unwary if care is not taken to make sure that they are an accurate depiction. But for now what we really want to know is whether class counsel can cross examine Siri and if so, what will it say.