Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple’s Controversial Butterfly Keyboards

Top line

A judge on Monday upheld a class action lawsuit against Apple over its controversial butterfly keyboard, a blow to Apple as it tries to get past years of complaints about the MacBook range.

Detail of an Apple MacBook 2017 laptop, taken on July 7, 2017.

Photo by Neil Godwin / T3 Magazine / Future via Getty Images

Key factors

The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2018, alleges that Apple knowingly sold defective keyboards and that its attempts to fix the problem never fixed the underlying design flaws.

California District Court judge Edward Davila ruled the lawsuit can go ahead as a class action, as indicated in last week’s unsealed filing first reported by Verge.

The class includes MacBook customers in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington who will purchase a 12-inch MacBook between 2015 and 2017, a MacBook Pro between 2016 and 2019, and a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019 bought.

The lawsuit makes the same complaints that customers have noticed for years, including the fact that some keys may not register or repeat multiple times after being pressed due to a “low-travel” design reducing the time users spend typing have to press a button.

Apple apologized for the problem, claiming that problems only affected a small number of customers, even though the company eventually discontinued the butterfly keyboard in 2020. (Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.)

Crucial quote

“No matter how much lipstick you try to put on this pig. . . It’s still ugly, ”wrote an Apple manager regarding the butterfly keyboard.

Key background

Apple’s butterfly keyboard, first introduced in 2015, dispensed with industry-standard “scissors” switches and instead used a different “butterfly” mechanism that enabled MacBooks to be thinner than ever before. Shortly thereafter, complaints arose when customers noticed that a small speck of dust or dirt could get caught between the keys, preventing them from working properly. Apple introduced an extended warranty program in 2018 to cover issues with butterfly keyboards and made a number of design changes in subsequent generations, such as: B. adding an elastic membrane to block out particles. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern wrote that these updates were still not working.


This isn’t the only hardware glitch causing legal trouble for Apple. Last year Apple paid $ 113 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by 34 attorneys general over the infamous Batterygate scandal. Apple has been accused of secretly slowing down older iPhones to preserve battery life, but denied any wrongdoing in the settlement.

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