Paris court to decide on exclusive iPhone sales

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An appeal court will decide Wednesday whether mobile phone unit Orange should have exclusive rights to sell iPhones, says judicial source.

PARIS – An appeals court in Paris will decide on Wednesday whether Orange should have exclusive rights to sell the Apple iPhone in France after competition officials suspended the deal in December, a judicial source said Monday.

France's national competition regulator on 17 December said the arrangement enjoyed by France Telecom's mobile phone unit Orange would likely "introduce a new element of rigidity in the sector which is already suffering from a lack of competition".

The suspension was decided on quickly just before Christmas, normally a high-sales season for mobile phones.

Orange along with Apple immediately appealed the regulator's move.

Since then the iPhone has still not been able to be sold in competitors SFR or Bouygues Telecom stores.

According to a source close to the case, negotiations between Apple and the two other mobile phone providers need only the eventual confirmation of the suspension of the exclusive sales deal to be brought to a conclusion.

When contacted by AFP, neither Orange, SFR or Bouygues Telecom would comment on the case.

Orange, which had a five-year exclusive sales deal, says it has sold more than 600,000 iPhones since it began offering them in November 2007.

[AFP / Expatica]

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