Just a few days after a class action
lawsuit was filed in California against Apple for locking down the iPhone, the California Supreme Court ruled on a different case that may have an impact on the Apple case. It's given the go ahead on a separate lawsuit against T-Mobile for locking its phones and requiring an early termination fee
. T-Mobile had argued that the terms of service required that any dispute go to binding arbitration, so that it didn't make sense to take it to the courts. Of course they want binding arbitration because companies almost always win
in binding arbitration. The court found that it's perfectly reasonable to take this issue to court. How the courts will actually rule on the issue could make a big difference in the Apple/iPhone case -- as there is the possibility that the courts may find that (in California at least) locking a phone to a single network is not allowed. It may depend on the specific wording of state laws, as the specifics of such a case can get rather technical. To be honest, if a mobile phone operator wants
to lock a phone to only their network, and people agree to it in the contract (or agree to an ETF), then that should be a contractual issue. It's a dumb
business practice -- as many operators are starting
. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be illegal.