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Apple Axes Antivirus Help Page

The company has removed an online help document that advised customers to use multiple antivirus products to keep their Macs secure.

Following a flurry of arguably unwarranted media attention, Apple has removed an online help document that advised customers to use multiple antivirus products to keep their computers secure. However, a company spokesman still sees value in antivirus software for the Mac.

"We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," an Apple spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100% immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection."

The move underscores Apple's commitment to marketing claims made on its Web site that "Mac OS X isn't plagued by constant attacks from viruses and malware" because the operating system was "designed with security in mind."

It may also reflect a desire to remove a possible source of legal ammunition should someone decide to sue Apple for overstating the security of its products.

Apple has been dealing with legal challenges to its marketing claims recently. The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority banned two iPhone 3G television ads, in August and November, because it deemed the ads to be misleading.

Responding to consumer complaints, the agency concluded in its ruling last month that the iPhone 3G was not "really fast" in the context shown by Apple's ad.

"Although we noted the on-screen text disclaimer, 'network performance will vary by location,' we considered that the visuals, in conjunction with the repeated use of the claim 'really fast,' were likely to lead viewers to believe that the device actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the ad," the agency's November adjudication ruling says. "Because we understood that it did not, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead."

Apple also was sued in October, along with AT&T, for misrepresenting the "speed, strength, and performance of the 3G-bandwidth network" that supports Apple's iPhone 3G.

In its reply (appended to the scan of the complaint), Apple defends its marketing claims as allowable exaggeration, or "puffing," as Apple's attorneys characterize it.

"[T]he alleged deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in the Plaintiff's position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple's statements as claims of fact," Apple's reply states.

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