A Teen Who Sold White iPhones Takes on Apple Without a Lawyer

Apple sued after the high-schooler imported conversion kits from China

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Remember the kid who brought the wrath of Steve Jobs upon him last fall when he started selling white iPhone 4 conversion kits directly from the factory in China? Well, Apple has now filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Queens teenager Fei Lam, who reportedly made $130,000 selling the kits through his site whiteiphone4now.com from August to November last year. Weirdly, the company has also filed a motion to dismiss the suit at the same time, which could mean a settlement is in the works but, as MacRumors points out, if granted Apple would have the right to sue Fei again.

Amazingly, Fei, whose parents are also named in the suit, is taking on the second-biggest company in the world without a lawyer, and he seems fairly savvy about it. Fast Company ran an interview today with the 17-year-old high school student, who told Austin Carr that he would meet with Apple's lawyers on his own. "I had a lawyer but I can't afford it anymore," Fei said. But he's been successfully keeping them at bay so far, so maybe he'll do alright: "I told Apple's lawyer that I'm sick and to meet when I get better. That was last week. I'm been handling the whole thing." Reports from November said Fei made $130,000, but he told Carr it wasn't that much. He wouldn't give the full amount, and said he doesn't yet know if he'll have to pay it back.

Fei, who set up a supply line with a Chinese businessman named Alan Yang to sell white "repair parts" obtained from a Chinese Foxconn factory, told Carr many other sites sold the parts. "I believe I was the only one that got their attention. After I closed down my site, other sites still sold the white repair parts. I guess if I look at it from Apple's perspective, they don't want the confusion that the white iPhone was released when it's not."

Fei also said he met Steve Wozniak while he was operating the site, and the Apple co-founder appeared to take his side. "I think he did. Yes, he did. He actually went on the Engadget Show and sort of defended me." Fei is due to meet Apple's lawyers at the company's New York office next week, most likely for a settlement.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.