Apple Demands Suppliers to Halt Sales of Unauthorized Chargers
MFi, which stands for "Made for iPod," "Made for iPhone" or "Made for iPad," is Apple's licensing program that indicates whether a product is authorized. To be able to utilize the MFi logos and have an authorized lightning or 30-pin charger, among other products that use Apple's licensed components, a company must join Apple's MFi program. However, if that company does not own a manufacturing facility—which many promotional suppliers do not—it is not eligible to join the MFi program.
But that doesn't mean there aren't any Apple product chargers that are safe in the promotional product industry.
"Yes, [there are authorized Apple chargers], but the only ones we have been informed of so far are for retail brand named products like Zoom and IDAPT," Sheldon said. "I have reached out to several suppliers and I have not found anyone yet that carries an authorized accessory that is not a retail brand."
The number of unauthorized chargers in the industry is unknown, but suppliers are discontinuing affected products while distributors are stopping sales on those same products, so the cease-and desist letter from Apple is just that, at least for now.
"It's really up to the suppliers to see how they want to respond," Lisa A. Lori, an intellectual property attorney with Philadelphia-based Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP, said of the cease-and-desist order. "Legally, they don't have to do anything."
If suppliers keep selling unauthorized chargers, Apple could sue. An Apple win could result in a court order to stop selling unauthorized chargers, significant legal fees and a large monetary judgment.
"If that ever went to court and [suppliers] ignore [the cease-and-desist letter], Apple could show willful conduct," Lori said, noting that those who have not yet received a letter could still be liable.