Apple has been fined more than $2 million AUD ($2.5 NZD) for deliberately misleading the public with claims the latest iPad is compatible with the 4G broadband network.
The technology giant breached Australian consumer law in marketing that implied the 'iPad with WiFi + 4G' could connect directly to the Telstra LTE mobile data network in Australia, which it could not, Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg found.
Apple placed its desire for global marketing uniformity ahead of its obligations to comply with Australian consumer law, he said.
Justice Bromberg fined Apple $2.25 million AUD ($2.8 NZD) and ordered it pay $300,000 AUS ($380,000 NZD) in costs.
He said the most concerning aspect of Apple's contravention of consumer law was the deliberate nature of its conduct.
"The conduct concerned was deliberate and very serious," Justice Bromberg said.
"It exposed a significant proportion of Australian consumers of tablet devices to a misleading representation."
The same campaign 'iPad with WiFi + 4G' was used worldwide, the judgment released on Thursday said.
Justice Bromberg said Apple was first told the device was not compatible with the Telstra 4G network on March 8 this year.
The risk of contravention of Australian consumer law would have been "reasonably obvious" to those at Apple familiar with the Australian market's understanding of the term 4G, he said.
"In that context, and in the absence of any other explanation, the facts to which I have just referred, suggest that Apple's desire for global uniformity was given a greater priority than the need to ensure compliance with the Australian consumer law," Justice Bromberg said.
"Conduct of that kind is serious and unacceptable."
Justice Bromberg said while he harboured concerns that the
financial strength of Apple diminished the meaning of the penalty,
he did not believe any further transgressions from Apple were
"The fact of the litigation and the media attention which it has drawn, will no doubt be a sobre reminder to Apple, and others who rely on their brand image that, as well as a penalty, there will likely be an intangible cost involved in a contravention of the Australian consumer law," he said.
Comment is being sought from Apple.