Apple’s Quiet War on Independent Repairmen

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In the past, a Goliath’s strength would be gauged in height measured in cubits, the brass of the helmet, the coat of mail with a weight in thousands of shekels in bronze and a spear’s head weighed in hundreds of shekels of iron. Nowadays, a Goliath corporation can just hire another Goliath, such as the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, with its 650 lawyers and 19 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. The firm boasts that “5 of the 10 world’s most valuable brands turn to Kilpatrick Townsend to grow and defend the value of their products and businesses.” One of those “5 of the 10 world’s most valuable brands” was interested in a video made by YouTuber Louis Rossmann.

When Rossmann was contacted by Kilpatrick Townsend on behalf of Apple he felt as if the grim reaper was knocking at his door. An owner of a small business, an Apple devices repair store, a few years back Rossman had started a YouTube channel to cover all things that interested him: Apple device repairs, business advice, personal advice, and occasionally, though more so of late, social or political commentary. The video that had gotten the attention of Apple was one in which Rossmann had showed a schematic of an Apple device and proceeded to show his viewers how they could fix their own device if they faced the same issue. For Apple, the act of showing the schematic on YouTube was a violation of its intellectual copyright. They wanted Rossmann to quietly make the video disappear. Rossmann hired a lawyer, and the lawyer advised that the request was sensible, there was no lawsuit, and thus the reasonable thing was to comply; besides, a genuine effort had been made to butter up Rossmann—the word came that both Kilpatrick Townsend and Apple liked his work. Rossmann thought about the option that he was given. Then he fired his lawyer.

The arrival of Kilpatrick Townsend gave Rossmann another push to get more involved in the Right to Repair movement. Right to Repair is a nationwide effort that aims to use legislation to return to consumers the choice of where and how to fix devices they own. Rossmann argues that what is going on now would be unthinkable just a few decades back. Corporations back then…

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