Apple is set to face the prospect of a big legal bill after the US Federal Trade Commission accused it of “violating” an agreement to pay for the belay devices of a few iPhone owners.
The agency said in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday that Apple had “negligently” agreed to pay $10.7m (£7.4m) in refunds to owners of the belayed iPhones.
Apple is not believed to be aware of the payment, but the FTC has threatened to file a complaint with the US Department of Justice if it does not.
Apple has so far declined to comment.
The iPhone maker also faced criticism last year after it released an app to make belaying easier for iPhone owners, which was subsequently removed.
The US Federal Communications Commission ruled that the app was an illegal “tolling” that was “unjustified and deceptive”.
Apple has since admitted that some iPhone owners were using the app for a “freemium” model, but said that was not the case.
The FTC also accused Apple of breaching an agreement in which the company agreed to refund all customers who paid more than $1,000.
Apple said in January that it was still considering the FTC’s complaint.
The commission said in its complaint that the “disproportionate” payment was “a result of Apple deliberately deceiving customers about the nature and cost of the iPhone-delivery system”.
Apple said it was not aware of any iPhone users who were being charged more than the advertised price.