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White iPhone kit gets teen $130K, legal trouble

updated 08:25 pm EST, Tue November 16, 2010

Legal issues may scuttle teen entrepreneur

A 17-year-old American college student has found a way to obtain apparently-genuine white component parts for the iPhone 4 long in advance of the planned spring 2011 debut of the much-sought-after official white model, the New York Observer reports, and has created a kit people can buy to convert their black iPhone 4s into authentic-looking white models. Questions remain, however, about the sourcing of the parts, the use of trademarks and the legitimacy of the operation which may land the youngster in legal trouble and raise the ire of Apple.

Queens, New York resident Fei Lam, who speaks fluent Chinese, was able to forge a connection to someone at Foxconn, the Chinese company that builds the iPhone 4 for Apple. Lam is selling the complete kits, which include white front and back panels, a white home button and tools and instructions for opening the iPhone 4, for $300 at his web site (he has temporarily reduced the price of the kit to $280). Lam also sells the front or back panels separately for those who do not wish to do a full conversion.

So far, Lam claims to have "created" more than 500 "white iPhone 4s" and sell more than $130,000 worth of the parts, which he says is helping to put him through college. Lam has yet to receive any official correspondence from Apple, though he has gotten a "threatening" letter from a private investigator warning him that the parts may be stolen or counterfeit, along with other issues that could eventually bring legal action against the teen. Lam repudiated the allegations.

So far, Lam isn't changing his practices or website, but says he intends to contact a lawyer in case Apple does make an official move against his business. [via New York Observer]

By Electronista Staff
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  1. stevesnj

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Apr 2003



    Using the Apple logo without their express consent is illegal. He deserves to be sued. No sympathy for him.

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008



    $280... drop it to $80 and I'll bite.

  1. climacs

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Sep 2001


    doesn't he know what happens

    to people who get crossways with Foxconn? They end up leaping off buildings... lots of buildings in NYC. Just sayin'.

  1. stormj

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010



    Trademark law is designed to prevent source confusion. You can sell Apple's products without Apple's consent; yu just can't pass off others' stuff as Apples, or put Apples logo on other stuff. If the products are counterfeit, however, Apple might get a court to order confiscation of the counterfeit parts, but if this guy didn't know that his legal fees would amount to a depo in someone elses case.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008


    stupidity these days is legion

    He'll end up regretting EVER starting this. Apple will stop it because if they don't they will lose control of the manufacturing process and then they are just ANOTHER company. This "kid" doesn't need college, he needs a swift kick in the butt.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006


    A dangerous game...

    he is playing. This is America and there is no excuse for this because of college. it's like selling dopes on the street to save money for college... what the h***? How about focusing on current schooling, get straight A's, apply for Financial Aids, and, at no time, he will be accepted in college just like any body else. Earn it the RIGHT way, kid!

  1. facebook_Ricky

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2010



    I WANT 1!!!

  1. redcapzero

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007


    kids today...

    don't ya just love'um; and by the way, soon (he might just) understand the meaning of 'burnt rubber'...

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003



    Way to go, that's good old fashioned american ingenuity.

    - A

  1. herojig

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009


    This is done all the time in other parts of the w***

    Go to MBK Mall in Bangkok and get this customization of any product done in seconds, for a lot less. I was only surprised that it was n American who had the ingenuity and spirit to do the same. Good for him.

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