United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS Re: Dkt. No. 27
Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the
First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). Dkt. No. 27
(“Mot.”). For the reasons articulated below, the
Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART
Defendant's motion to dismiss.
Christian Sponchiado and Courtney Davis bring this putative
consumer class action against Defendant Apple, Inc., alleging
that Apple misrepresented the pixel resolutions and display
sizes for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max products
(the “iPhone Products”). See generally
Dkt. No. 26 (“FAC”). The FAC alleges the
following facts, which are taken as true for the purpose of
deciding the motion to dismiss.
is a “tiny unit” on a mobile screen that combines
with other pixels to create color images. Id. ¶
33. Pixels are made from subpixels, and each subpixel outputs
exactly one color. Id. ¶ 34. A “true
screen pixel” purportedly will have at least one red
subpixel, one green subpixel, and one blue subpixel.
Id. ¶ 38. By changing the brightness and
intensity of each subpixel, the pixel can change the shade of
its color. Id. ¶¶ 34-35. The subpixels are
typically lined up on the screen in a red, green, and blue
order (“RGB”). Id. ¶ 36.
advertises the iPhone Products as having a higher number of
pixels than their previous models. Id. ¶¶
4-7. For example, Apple advertises its iPhone X and XS as
having a “2436-by-1125 pixel resolution at 458 ppi,
” whereas the iPhone 8 has a “1920-by-1080 pixel
resolution at 401 ppi.” Id. ¶¶ 5-6.
The pixel resolution is displayed on Apple's website and
in stores. Id. ¶¶ 4-8. The display phones
in the retail stores have a built-in application
(“Compare iPhone”) which compares the
specifications of the different iPhone models, including the
pixel resolution. Id.
allege that the pixel resolution is misleading because Apple
includes “false pixels, ” which are pixels that
share fractions of subpixels with adjacent pixels.
Id. ¶¶ 40-41. This purportedly means that
the pixels in the iPhone Products “cannot all freely
make any color, ” because each false pixel is unable to
“freely use” the subpixels that it shares with
the adjacent pixels. Id. ¶ 43. Further, the
shared subpixels allegedly cannot “simultaneously be
the appropriate brightness for all of the false pixels”
between which they are shared. Id. ¶ 50.
According to Plaintiffs, the iPhone Products only have
“half of the advertised number of pixels and two thirds
of the advertised number of subpixels.” Id.
¶ 44. Apple is purportedly misleading “reasonable
consumers to believe that its Product screens provide the
same clarity as would RGB screens of the advertised
resolution.” Id. ¶ 51.
alleges that Apple also misrepresented the screen area of the
iPhone Products, because the advertised dimensions (for
example, 5.8 inches diagonally for the iPhone X and XS)
include the rounded corners of the iPhone. Id.
¶ 10. The rounded corners purportedly “cut[ ] the
diagonal size by about 1/16 of an inch, ” meaning that
the viewable screen size without the rounded corners is less
than advertised (for example, “5.6875 inches” for
the iPhone X and XS). Id. According to Plaintiffs,
Apple's screen size representation is deceiving because
“[r]easonble consumers … would reasonably assume
that these diagonal measurements referenced a rectangle,
” instead of a “hypothetical rectangle whose
hypothetical corners sit outside the device's actual
screen area.” Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiffs also
allege that Apple intentionally tried to
“obscure” the fact that the iPhone XS and iPhone
XS Max have “notches” at the top of the screen.
Id. ¶ 13. Apple allegedly used a “color
image of a planet” against a black background in its
advertising to camouflage the notch. Id.
advertised the screen sizes on its website and in retail
stores. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Apple's webpages
for the iPhone XS and XS Max include a disclaimer in a
footnote at the bottom of the page, disclosing that the
“actual screen area is less than indicated by the
diagonal measurements.” Id. ¶ 67. The
corresponding footnote is placed immediately after the last
word in the statement concerning the screen size dimension.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 67 (“5.8 [inch] Super
Retina custom OLED display [FN1]”). Another online
advertisement includes a disclaimer that the iPhone X
“display has rounded corners that follow a beautiful
curved design, and these corners are within a standard
rectangle. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the
screen is 5.85 inches diagonally (actual viewable area is
less).” Id. ¶ 39. And in stores, the
“Compare iPhone” application for the iPhone X
includes an asterisk after the following text: “Super
Retina HD display 5.8 [inch] (diagonal) all-screen
OLED*.” Id. ¶ 8. However, the FAC does
not make clear whether there is corresponding text explaining
what the asterisk means, and if so, where that text is
Sponchiado is a citizen of California. Id. ¶
25. In December 2017, he purchased an iPhone X at a store in
San Francisco. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. He
purportedly was “exposed to Defendant's false pixel
claims and false diagonal length claims at the iPhone X
display, as well as through a screen comparison app.”
Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff Davis is a citizen of New
York. Id. ¶ 29. She claims that in September
2018, she was “exposed to Defendant's screen claims
regarding the iPhone XS Max in advertisements and online as
part of Defendant's continuous marketing program.”
Id. In reliance on these representations, Plaintiff
Davis pre-ordered the iPhone XS online. Id. ¶
30. Each Plaintiff purchased an iPhone Product
“believing it would provide both the advertised screen
size and the advertised screen quality.” See
id. ¶ 27; see also id. ¶ 30. But
because the phones purportedly “did not provide the
advertised screen size or screen quality/resolution, ”
Plaintiffs suffered “injury in fact and lost
money.” See id. ¶ 27; see also
id. ¶ 30.
on these facts, Plaintiffs assert the following six causes of
action against Apple: (1) California Consumer Legal Remedies
Act (“CLRA”), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750
et seq.; (2) California Unfair Competition Law
(“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Profs. Code §§
17200 et seq.; (3) California False Advertising Law
(“FAL”), Cal. Bus. & Profs. Code §§
17500 et seq.; (4) New York Deceptive Acts and
Practices Act, N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 349; (5) New York
False Advertising Law, N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 350; and (6)
common law fraud. Id. ¶¶ 91-152. Plaintiff
also appears to assert claims under the laws of each of the
fifty states and the District of Columbia. Id.