T-Mobile keeps German iPhone monopoly

T-Mobile keeps German iPhone monopoly

Court throws out Vodafone appeal

A Hamburg court has ruled that T-Mobile can sell Apple's iPhone exclusively in Germany, overturning a restraining order granted to Vodafone that had forced the sale of unlocked handsets.

The move will be a blow to other mobile networks which had hoped for a repeat of a similar case in France that forced Orange to sell unlocked iPhones.

But the Regional Court of Hamburg has ruled that the exclusive contract between Apple and T-Mobile is legal.

"From the beginning we were convinced that this offer was legal and really good for the customer," T-Mobile spokesman Klaus Czerwinski told the International Herald Tribune after the ruling.

The court has allowed Vodafone to appeal within one month, and the company has said that it will examine the ruling before making a decision.

"These sales terms are to the detriment of consumers and we wanted a court to review them," said Vodafone spokesman Jens Kuerten.

Marco Hartmann-Rüppel, a competition lawyer at TaylorWessing in Hamburg, insisted that the verdict was not unexpected.

"The ruling is no surprise and I do not think Vodafone can change things on appeal," he said.

But the case raises the possibility of a challenge under European law, given that different member states have different policies on 'exclusive' contracts.

The ruling will certainly make Apple more careful over plans to extend sales of the iPhone.