White iPhone 4s are now being sold by Apple after months of delays caused by a few difficulties in manufacturing the ivory white devices, something Apple admitted to last month. Yet there are a few white iPhone 4s spotted in the wild, thanks to a few determined users who were comfortable with allowing a third-party to pull apart their iPhone and install a conversion kit for a fee. Or they could try the task themselves by ordering the conversion kits.
Remember 17-year-old Fei Lam from New York City? He managed to make a pretty buck - about $40,000 last November - by selling said white iPhone 4 conversion kits via the now-defunct whiteiphone4now site. That's right, defunct - shortly after his site attracted attention from the media, a private investigator accused him of trafficking stolen goods. The site disappeared soon after.
But on the eve of a wave of official white iPhone 4s, Apple is ensuring no one else can do what Lam did in securing unauthorized parts from Foxconn by filing a lawsuit against Lam and his family, then a voluntary dismissal right after.
As reported by MacRumors, the lawsuit against Lam and his parents on Wednesday, claiming trademark infringement and dilution of its trademarks. The latter claim caused issues for Lam when custom agents in Hong Kong held up some of his conversion kit shipments over said trademark issues. Lam's parents were included as they assisted their son's activities under their supervision. According to the lawsuit:
Defendent Lam willfully and without authorization has used Apple's trademarks in connection with the sale of his "White iPhone 4 Conversion Kits," which among other things included white front and back panels with Apple's logo and "iPhone" trademarks that are used in connection with the promotion and sale of Apple's well known iPhone 4 handheld mobile digital electronic devices. Defendant at all times knew that Apple never has authorized the sale of white panels for its iPhone 4 mobile devices, and that he obtained these panels from sources that were not authorized by Apple or any of its suppliers to sell them.
The suit initially sought a permanent injunction which would force Lam to hand over profits from the conversion kits, reimbursement from the lawsuit, and to be barred from any future sales of conversion kits. As the suit against Lam was dropped soon after, and a possible settlement reached, this lawsuit may have only served to warn others of attempting to sell unauthorized modifications or accessories with an Apple logo on them. It is not known how much Lam may have paid to Apple in settling this lawsuit.