In early June 2005, Apple Computer settled a United States-based class-action lawsuit over battery problems in specific iPod models, offering compensation and/or free repairs to affected individuals. As of today, a web site called AppleiPodSettlement.com has been established, and a Claim Form provided for free download. iPod owners registered with Apple are already receiving the same Claim Form in the mail, along with a Notice describing the settlement. This new iLounge page serves as a clearinghouse for information and “frequently asked questions” reference for iPod owners with battery problems.

Who can claim? The settlement covers any United States resident who (a) purchased a new first-, second-, and third-generation iPod on or before May 31, 2004, and (b) experienced a “Battery Failure” within a specified period of time after purchase. You can submit one claim for each iPod you own that meets these standards, but not more than one claim per iPod.

Who can’t claim? No iPod with a Click Wheel controller – including the iPod mini, fourth-generation iPod, or iPod photo – is covered. Similarly, the iPod shuffle is not covered. You cannot claim if you purchased your iPod used, or purchased it after May 31, 2004, and you cannot claim if you haven’t experienced a Battery Failure, as defined below.

Which iPod do I have? First- and second-generation iPods included FireWire ports on their tops, unlike any other iPod. Third-generation iPods had circular “Scroll Wheel” controls with a row of four buttons on top that did not appear on any other iPod model. The picture below will help you identify whether you’re covered.

What is a “Battery Failure?” A third-generation iPod has experienced battery failure when “the capacity… to hold an electrical charge has dropped to four hours or less of continuous audio playback, with earbuds attached,” while first- and second-generation iPods have failed when they get “five hours or less of continuous audio playback, with earbuds attached.” Surprisingly, the definition does not mention whether the numbers need be reached with or without your screen’s backlight on. Regardless, your battery must have failed within two years of the date of purchase.

How do I know for sure if I have a Battery Failure? Run the test provided in Apple’s Notice, part IV. Reset your iPod, then update it with the latest Software Updater, fully charge the iPod, go to the Settings menu and turn on Repeat, then turn on a timer and play a song from an album. The song will replay until the battery runs out. If your iPod falls below the times specified above, your battery has failed.

What do I get if my iPod’s battery has failed?

First- and Second-Generation iPod owners: You can choose either (a) an Apple Store credit of $50, or (b) a $25 check.

Third-Generation iPod owners: The iPod’s one-year limited warranty is automatically extended for one additional year solely to cover battery failures. If the battery fails at any time within the two-year period, you may choose either (a) replacement of the battery by Apple, or (b) a $50 Apple Store credit. If you choose (a), Apple has the choice to replace the battery or the entire iPod. However, you will have to pay shipping and handling fees applicable under Apple’s limited warranty.

What about if my iPod failed and I already replaced the battery… or the iPod? Apple will send you a check for 50% of the amount you paid for the battery or iPod replacement, not including shipping or tax.

When must I act? Third-generation iPod owners have until two years after the original purchase date of the iPod to submit their claim electronically or by mail, or September 30, 2005, whichever is later. All other claims must be submitted by September 30, 2005.

I’m affected. What do I need to do? If you haven’t purchased Apple’s AppleCare Protection Plan for the iPod, you’ll have to fill out the Claim Form to receive any benefit. You’ll need to enclose proof of your iPod purchase – your receipt, a check, or a credit/debit card statement – and submit the claim form to the included address. Your proof can be vague (such as a $400 credit card charge for “electronics”), so long as you declare under penalty of perjury that the transaction was for the purchase of an iPod.

If you purchased AppleCare for the iPod and experienced a battery failure that was already remedied by Apple, the company will send a $25 credit to you without the need for additional action. However, you may be entitled to additional benefits, so read over the claim form carefully to see whether you qualify for more than $25.