In In re Apple & AT&TM Antitrust Litigation, No. 07-CV-05152-JW (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2008) (attached IPhone Decision), plaintiffs alleged that the arrangement in which the Apple IPhone worked exclusively with AT&TM not only for the initial two-year contract period but also for three additional years after their contracts expired with AT&TM violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Plaintiffs also alleged that Apple’s restrictions on dowloadable applications for use on IPhones violated Section 2. Plaintiffs alleged Section 2 claims of monopolization and attempted monopolization of the market for IPhone applications and monopolization, attempted monopolization and a conspiracy to monopolize the market for voice and data services to IPhone owners. The Northern District of California held that there were cognizable relevant product markets limited to Apple IPhone customers in these aftermarkets. The court distinguished cases in which customers voluntarily commit to a lock-in through a contract such as when a franchisee agrees to purchase certain products from its franchisor. In this case, the Complaint alleged that the lock-in was created through deceit or unbeknownst to the customers at the time of purchase. The Complaint alleged that the IPhone customers did not know that they could not unlock their IPhones from AT&TM service after the two-year commitment or the limitation on downloadable applications. This case is consistent with the Supreme Court’s approach in determining whether aftermarkets represent separate relevant product markets. The key inquiry is whether the consumer knows or has reason to know of limitations in purchasing products or services in the afermarket before he becomes locked-in by the initial purchase.
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Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : October 20, 2008