Orange Loses iPhone Exclusivity Rights In France Following Court Ruling

In what seems to be a big blow to the network operator Orange, a Paris appeals court in a ruling said that the operator must surrender its exclusive rights to distribute the blockbuster iPhone in France, upholding the last month’s decision by competition authorities of France.

Back in December last year, the Competition Council of France ruled that the exclusive contract between Apple and Orange for the distribution of iPhone in France breached the anti-competition laws of France.

The new ruling would open the doors for other operators, including SFR Unit of Vivindi SA and Bouygues SA, to begin selling this sizzling device in French territories.

Rival Bouygues filed a lawsuit against the France Telecom in September last year, alleging that the latter had violated the anti-trust competition laws.

France Telecom, which has purported the French regulator had eventually “put the market economy into question”, responded through an email by saying that it was rather “surprised” over the collapse of its appeal, and said that it will file another appeal with the highest court in France, the Cour de Cassation.

Orange, a unit of France Telecom, is the largest mobile phone operator of France, and it has sold as many as 600,000 iPhones since the device was launched in December 2007.

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Our Comments

It is unlikely that the phones will be unlocked - which would spark a sudden rise in the number of short breaks to France - or that other countries will follow France in demanding that Apple removes exclusivity clauses from its agreement. Still, it is quite interesting to see that at least one country did not toe the line to the Cupertino-based Company.

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