Apple hit with lawsuit over Macbook's "defective" butterfly keyboard

Yolanda Curtis
May 14, 2018

A Federal Court class action lawsuit was filed on Friday against Apple over alleged defected keyboard designs which were incorporated in MacBook models from 2015.

In the never-ending race to make the slimmest and lightest laptops, Apple, alongside other manufacturers, has been trimming the fat on its notebooks for years.

According to the text of the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court Northern District of California, "Despite awareness of the keyboard defect, Apple equipped future model MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops with the butterfly keyboard, and continued selling these laptops to consumers at premium prices". The lawsuit claims that the company knew about the flaw at or before the product was launched publically. The case alleges that "thousands" of owners of these devices have faced issues because of the design. "As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure", the complaint reads.

Data collected by AppleInsider from Apple Genius Bars and authorized third-party fix shops suggests the keyboard failure rate has more or less doubled since the new design appeared. On most occasions, the lawsuit went on to say "minimal amount of dust and debris" was enough for keyboard failure.

Apple introduced the butterfly mechanism with its 12-inch MacBook in 2015 with Phil Schiller advertising the new low-profile switches as both more responsive (four times more) and robust than traditional scissor-type components. Many users were forced to take their laptop for a trip to the service center. Out of warranty, it costs about $700 to replace this part on a MacBook Pro.

As evidence of the widespread fault, the claimants pointed to a petition on demanding Apple replace the "defective" keyboard mechanism, which had attracted 19,425 signatures at time of writing.

However, Apple seems to be aware of the issue and seems to have acknowledged the problem. The plaintiffs are seeking damages and legal fees, and demand that Apple admit to the design flaw and cover all costs for remedying or replacing the defective computers. Apple also released support documents detailing a method of cleaning the keyboard with a can of compressed air, which users claimed to be quite ineffective.

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