Vodafone Germany has failed in its attempt to prevent T-Mobile from locking the Apple iPhone.
A recent court decision at the Regional Court of Hamburg has ruled that T-Mobile still retains exclusive rights to distribute the iPhone. The decision quashes a temporary injunction the court granted two weeks ago, which forced T-Mobile to sell iPhones that were not tied to a single network.
Vodafone objected to the exclusivity agreement and said customers should be able to choose between networks. It claimed that such exclusivity violates Germany’s competition laws.
In the two weeks since the temporary injunction was granted, T-Mobile sold the handsets without a network contract for £719 (€999). The price with a two-year T-Mobile contract is around £288 (€399).
Managing director of T-Mobile Germany Philipp Humm was pleased that clarity has now been brought to its customers. He said: ‘We have always been convinced of the legality of our offer and remain committed to defending this sales model. The entire mobile communications industry has to rely on innovative handsets and modern sales models to regenerate growth.’
At the same time, Humm announced that sales of unlocked iPhones would be stopped as quickly as possible. On the expiry of the minimum contract term of 24 months, customers have the option to get the handset unlocked free of charge.
A Vodafone Germany spokeswoman said: ‘We have not received the written ruling, but we will be examining it closely to decide on any future actions.’
A similar situation occurred in France; however, Orange had to unlock the iPhone. Orange reported that 20% of its customers who bought an iPhone opted for an unlocked one.