German Court Bans VoIP On The iPhone; Says It's Unfair

from the felony-interference-with-a-business-model dept

We’ve pointed to a bunch of stories that involved Apple somewhat arbitrarily forbidding or banning iPhone apps, but now it appears that the courts are getting in on the game as well. A German court has banned a VoIP iPhone app after T-Mobile, the mobile operator who offers the iPhone in Germany, complained. The court says that this VoIP app “makes use of unfair business practices,” though it’s difficult to see how. VoIP is a perfectly acceptable application, so why is it unfair? The court’s explanation here seems a bit stretched as well. Apparently, the only way to run this particular VoIP app is on a jailbroken iPhone, and T-Mobile’s contract forbids jailbreaking the phone. Of course, if that’s true, isn’t it an issue between T-Mobile and its customers who broke the contract? Why should the app maker be blamed? All it did was build a useful app? This seems like yet another case where a company is arguing that interference with a business model should be illegal.

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Comments on “German Court Bans VoIP On The iPhone; Says It's Unfair”

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Yosi says:

You don't see anything unfaire?

You don’t see anything unfaire? Really? Data connection is more expansive from network resources point of view. So, VoIP over UMTS is clear waste of bandwidth.

If data connection is provided on “unlimited” basis, but voice calls are billed per-minute, be sure that company not intend that you will waste it’s network resources for free. Sorry, but voice on mobile phone going through GSM, not Skype. That’s what mobile phone exists for.

CastorTroy-Libertarian, Lover, General Annoyance f says:

Re: You don't see anything unfaire?

Are you Seriously this deranged and mis-guided…

I was going to go into one of my famous and long diatribes but you just are not worth the time or effort if you seriously think the GOVERNMENT should step in on a Contract Dispute between consumer and phone company…

mrops says:

Re: You don't see anything unfaire?

You must be speaking out of your ass, cause your write up sounds and smells like a fart.

Make up your mind, is it a waste of bandwidth or unfair. The issue is not waste of bandwidth, its voice, it directly competes with their offering. Youtube uses 10 times more bandwidth than VoIP does (if not more), yet its ok to watch videos on UMTS.

If I wanted a mobile phone that just did talking i wouldn’t have spent the kind of money i do on an iphone. If they don’t want VoIP, fine, that is between t-mobile and its customer. Write that in a contract and go after the customer. There are carriers perfectly ok with using VoIP over UMTS, I do so regularly. be bringing down the towers.

It is not t-mobile business interfering with a 3rd party offering. Next Shell will sue Toyota for making the Prius, its robbing us out of revenue, please oh judge, help us.

Anonymous Coward says:

VoIP where you are

VOIP is “unfair” to the landline companies who have to maintain all the early 1900s copper that’s buried in the ground– they are unable to collect per-minute revenue for.

In Gaermany, DT’s T-Com, is the monopoly wireline provider, and has the unfortunate task of this. The German wireline business has been hemmoraging money for as long as I started watching it (~8 years?). So it comes as no surprise that it seems easier to fight it in court than try to develop a decade-long migration strategy and compelling customer-focused products which can only be brought to market with a full TCP-IP network.

Lame Duck says:

Is Yosi for real?

If I pay the OUTRAGEOUS amount for the unlimited data plan, who the heck is anyone to tell me what I should or should not use it for?

If I want to download porn 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, that’s what I’m paying for.

If I want to surf the web every second of everyday, that’s what I’m paying for.

If I want to download or stream music all day long, that’s what I’m paying for.

If I want to use VOIP instead of the regular plan, that’s what I’m paying for.

I MAY or I MAY NOT use the iPhone for calling. So that’s NOT what mobile phones exist for. Maybe… back in the 90’s, when cell phones could just do voice and play monotonic ringtones.

Wake up, smell the coffee and join us here in 2008 when we can do all kinds of fun things with our cellphones… only one of which is calling.

Overcast says:

be sure that company not intend that you will waste it’s network resources for free.

The users are paying for the service. The Company provides ‘unlimited’ data. The users are using the ‘unlimited’ data connection, the company is whining.

It seems it’s really ‘limited’ in spite of the fact they say it’s ‘unlimited’ then, correct? To most people ‘unlimited’ means – without limits, for one to use in a manner that’s without some sort of ‘limit’. At least – that’s the normal definition of the word, it seems they may not agree.

That’s false advertising, anyway you spin it.

Chronno S. Trigger (user link) says:

Re: Re:

It shouldn’t matter even if they don’t have the unlimited plan. These people are paying for the bits, they should be able to use them in any way they see fit short of illegal activities. And it’s not like you can get an iPhone and a data plan without the voice plan. Why are they worried if someone uses VoIP?

moe says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except that in every mobile phone data plan I’ve seen, including the unlimited plans and pay-for-bits plans, the terms of service specifically state the allowed uses. Only those uses are allowed (typically web, email, and IM) and any others are forbidden. They even provide some example of forbidden activities, including P2P and streaming media.

So, when you sign up for the service you’re signing up for the restrictions, too. You’re paying the price set for acceptable use of the connection (as determined by the provider), not for using it any way that you want.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the US there is a species of tort known as “intentional inteference with prospective economic advantage”, one of many torts (civil actions) that are generally proscribed by state unfair competition laws. Perhaps there is a somewhat similar counterpart under German law.

In such instances where this tort applies, the legal action is lodged against the third party associated with such interference, and not the parties to an economic relationship (e.g., contract).

erica (user link) says:

Like when AOL's unlimited plan was really limited?

8-12 years ago, when AOL was dialup for most everyone, they offered an unlimited plan. THEN they came back and said ‘well, we don’t REALLY mean unlimited, so we are going to limit the unlimited.’

So, now if I buy an unlimited data plan and use VOIP, then the provider is going to limit what I USE on that ‘un’limited data plan?

Not to mention, I buy the phone, I own the phone, yet the provider is going to tell me what I can and can not to do / install on My Phone after I bought it?

So, does that mean I really do not own my phone I bought – that it is still the providers? Then pay me to act like I am really USING it.

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