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Apple threatens Danish carrier over iPhone sales

updated 06:00 pm EST, Fri November 30, 2007

Telekaeden selling iPhones

Apple is threatening Danish wireless distributor Telekæden with legal action, after the chain has been selling unlocked iPhones without the company's permission. reports that Telekæden is selling the units for almost 6,000 kr (~$1200 US) through its website, unlocked so that they may be used with any GSM-based carrier, which counters Apple's current business model for the device. Apple intends to release the iPhone in Denmark under the same business model - providing a locked version to a preferred GSM carrier - despite running into numerous legal hitches in both France and Germany.

Lawyer Johan Løje - Apple's Danish legal representative - claims in a letter to Telekæden that they are selling illegally imported units without Apple's permission. Apple insists that the distributor signs a legally binding document that would force Telekæden to cease selling the modified iPhones, as well as handing over any and all stock of the devices to Løje, without compensation. Apple is also seeking damages and legal fees, and want to bind the company from ever selling Apple products again, unless prior permission is given.

"We see Apple's move, and the attitude upon which it's based, as a threat against the free market rules. Goods should be able to travel freely, and be priced freely within Europe," says head of sales in Telekæden, Klaus Engelbrecht. "We don't believe we've done anything wrong. We don't need express permission from Nokia to sell a Nokia phone".

Although Apple gave a deadline of 4PM local time, Telekæden is not expected to respond in an official manner until next week. When asked for a comment, Løje said Apple's motives are based on iPhone imports outside of Europe being illegal, and explained that he could not comment further on the matter.

by MacNN Staff





  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sorry steve but...

    EU law permits, in fact, requires the free movement of goods and services within the free trade area and any attempt to circumvent, stifle or impede such trade is illegal under European law. Just ask why Nintendo got fined nearly £100,000,000 a few years back!

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not correct

    Sorry Feathers, but you are exaggerating a bit. It may be legal for people to move goods they purchased across European borders. However, it is not legal for a company to sell another company's product without permission. It is also a violation of International copyright law if the Danish company obtained those phones from outside of Europe and hacked the phones to sell them there. Companies in Europe can choose what companies sell there products and exclude others from selling their products.

    Keep in mind the Danish company is not merely unlocking phones purchased legally by people elseplace, but it is actually selling the iPhone's unlocked. That is unquestionably illegal. If the company was merely unlocking the phones, maybe they'd have a case.

  1. Marook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's phones from Debitel


    Telekæden is selling phones from France Debitel, as far as I have learned, so they are movig them from France to DK. That should be OK within EU.... right?

  1. rjwill246

    Joined: Dec 1969


    EU rights

    It would not be legal for Debitel to resell iPhones to another company so that that company could sell them. Apple would have no agreement with them to do so. Indeed, any such phones would NOT get Apple support nor be under Apple warranty.

    Even IF, the EU said it was okay, Apple would still not have to honour any service the iPhones might need. It is a silly situation for Telekæden to have gotten into, bt it sure shows that the iPhone is driving people to do desperate things.

  1. Buran

    Joined: Dec 1969


    First sale in EU?

    Do they have an equivalent to the right of first sale? That is, once you buy something you can do whatever you want to it and resell it and the original seller can't demand any more money from you past the first sale.

    If so, I can't see what Apple is complaining about.

  1. deVilliers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It is unlawful under EU law for a company to artificially divide up countries within the common market.

    Apple be acting unlawfully if it fixed the coding or sales conditions of unlocked iPhone to prevent it being used or sold in any other EU country.

    Apple is currently under investigation, with record labels, for trying to divide up the common market within the EU in relation to sales of songs from iTunes.

    de Villiers

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    international law?

    Good grief copyright law? Take your case to the 'one world government' then...

    there may be treaties that are called international....but the way you bandied about the term 'international law' requires a lot of further explanation.

    Cite the statute you base your claims on...cannot...see, thats my point.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    but as far as european la

    btw, just because I didn't like the comment, does not mean I agree with Apple.

    Apple is a bad player...if its not illegal yet, I hope each and every european country, and america for that matter....makes Apple's business model illegal.

    Society doesn't need it.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple in the right


    Apple is named in the music investigation, but everybody knows the labels are the real culprits. Apple wanted to do one European record store (it certainly would be easier to do that), but the labels and varying copyright laws and contractual terms prevented it from doing so. As much as I hate the labels, it seems they might have an argument for having different European Stores because of varying copyright laws, contractual terms, and the fact that Britain uses a different valued currency. If not, it doesn't seem productive to point the finger at Apple. Europe wouldn't have iTunes if Apple didn't appease the record labels. The labels wouldn't have allowed it. Apple certainly is the villain sometimes, but not there.

    Moreover, Apple can under European law prevent a company from selling or reselling its product. That is how it protects its trademark. The first sale doctrine also does not apply to companies, only consumers. Apple is not preventing consumers from taking a phone from one country to another or from buying the phone from where they desire provided it is an authorized reseller. Apple is only making sure authorized dealers are the only ones selling the phone.

    It is worth noting that Apple also can afford very good European lawyers.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Reselling is illegal


    The first sale doctrine only applies to consumers not retailers. Retailers are governed by the contract plain and simple. If the contract prevents them from reselling a product, they cannot resell the product. Since Apple only allows authorized dealers to sell its product, you can bet any retailer reselling the product to another dealer is violating the contract. The unauthorized reseller could be liable under International Trademark law. The seller selling to the reseller would be liable under contract law.

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