Apple may be sued for misleading consumers about the 4G capabilities of the new iPad in the UK. The company has already been found guilty of misleading advertising in Australia, and has been instructed to offer a refund to buyers of the new iPad there.
Here in the UK Advertising Standards Authority has been assessing complaints that Apple's advertising for the new iPad is misleading due to claims that the device offers 4G. Apple describes the new iPad as being 4G capable, but as we discussed after the launch of the device, the 4G standard used by the new iPad only works in the US and Canada. In other countries where 4G is available, it operates on a different frequency to that of the iPad. The UK doesn't have 4G, yet, and when it does launch at some point in 2013, it will also be on a different frequency. (More below)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has already taken legal action against Apple, insisting that it makes consumers aware that the new iPad is incompatible with the 4G mobile data network in Australia.
As we noted previously, a few days following the launch of the new iPad, Apple changed the small print on the Apple Store entry for the 4G iPad to emphasise that LTE 4G will work in US and Canada.
However, this may not be sufficient to stop Apple getting into trouble with the ASA. The Advertising Code states that "Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so" and "Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner." You can read the advertising code here.