updated 04:35 pm EST, Mon February 25, 2008
AU iPhone deal illegal?
Apple's planned release of the iPhone in Australia could turn out to be an illegal affair under current trade laws, according to one group of law researchers. iPhone launches are expected tot ake place in Asia as well as Australia some time during 2008, but an exclusive deal with one mobile carrier could restrict customer choice in technology markets, according to law researcher Dale Clapperton as cited by theage.com.au. Both France and Germany have both enacted measures to ensure iPhone customers in those countries can choose a carrier other than Apple's chosen partner, to protect consumer choice as well as competition.
"The iPhone is breaking new ground in using technology to restrict customer's choice in technology markets," said Queensland University of Technology (QUT) law researcher Dale Clapperton.
An analysis of iPhone under Australia's competition laws by Clapperton and fellow QUT law expert Professor Stephen Corones revealed the possibility of legal difficulties.
"This law will greatly simplify the task of seeking redress for such behaviour through the courts and could prove a deterrent for exclusive release of the iPhone with one carrier," said Clapperton. "If Apple [enters] into an exclusive agreement with any particular carrier then it would be a matter for the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) as to whether that agreement was anticompetitive and contravened the trade practices act."
"It would be like Ford deciding that from now on all of the cars they produce can only use be used with petrol from Shell," he explained. "If you fill your car up with fuel from BP the ignition system will detect that and shut down the car."
Clapperton said he would prefer Apple release an unlocked iPhone in Australia, but admits that possibility is unlikely based on previously-signed deals.