A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit accusing Apple of “iBricking” the iPhone.

To boost sales of the iPhone 4, Apple told owners of its third-generation iPhone to download an operating system that the company knew would turn the 3G phones into a “device with little more use than that of a paper weight,” unhappy customers said in a Superior Court class action last year.

Lead plaintiff Bianca Wofford said Apple told owners of its 3G and 3GS iPhones that the new iOS4 operating system was an upgrade. But she says the “upgrade” made her phone slow and susceptible to crashes, turning an iPhone into an “iBrick.”

“In essence, Apple knowingly and intentionally released what it called a system software ‘upgrade’ that, in fact, made hundreds of thousands of third generation iPhones that were exclusively tethered to AT&T data plans ‘useless’ for their intended purpose,” according to the complaint. 

It continued: “Since the release of iOS4 in conjunction with the sale and release of the fourth generation iPhone, or the iPhone 4 in June 2010, Apple has falsely, intentionally and repeatedly represented to owners and consumers of the iPhone 3G that its new operating system for the device, iOS4, was of a nature, quality, and a significant upgrade for the functionality of all iPhone devices, when in fact, the installation and use of iOS4 on the iPhone 3G resulted in the opposite – a device with little more use than that of a paper weight.”

Wofford sought restitution, disgorgement of Apple’s ill-gotten gains, and damages for false and deceptive advertising, unfair competition, and violations of state consumer protection laws.

In his order issued Wednesday, Judge Anthony J. Battaglia ruled that the free software upgrade did not amount to a “sale or lease” under California’s Consumer Legal Remedy Act, and therefore the act didn’t apply, reports “mocoNews” (http://macte.ch/li7cT). The judge also found that software did not qualify as a “good or service” under the law, and that Wofford’s related claims for false advertising and deceptive business practices were not valid either. Battaglia concluded that the claim should be dismissed but did allow Wofford 30 days to submit an amended complaint.

— Dennis Sellers