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Apple Settles iPod Battery Claim

Apple has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over the rechargeable battery in its popular iPod. The suit could potentially cost the company $100 million, the plaintiffs attorney's said Friday.

The settlement covers an estimated 2 million users who had battery problems with older versions of the digital music player. They are now eligible to receive $50 vouchers and extended warranties under the agreement.

San Francisco-based law firm Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo posted a notice announcing the settlement on its Web site Thursday.

The complaint, which was filed by eight disgruntled iPod owners in the fall of 2003, charged the company had exaggerated claims that the rechargeable battery would last the lifetime of the player and would allow for continuous use up to 10 hours.

However, the plaintiffs claimed it would last only approximately four hours and complained the batteries needed to be replaced after less than a year-and-a-half of use. New batteries for the product cost $99.

Eligible members of the lawsuit include those who bought a first-, second- or third-generation iPod on or before May 31, 2004, according to the agreement. Lawyers say the settlement could affect as many as 2 million people who bought versions of iPod through May 2004.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple confirmed the settlement agreement but did not comment further.

Because the settlement provides for different options and benefits depending on the type of iPod affected, it could be hard to gauge how many iPod owners will submit a claim.

But the cost could be huge for Apple, because it is estimated that the battery issue could have affected 2 million customers.

The judge in the case is expected to approve the final settlement at a hearing set for August 25.