In December 2008, Apple and Orange appealed the Competition Council's ruling that the companies had violated French anti-competition laws. That appeal was dismissed yesterday.
France Telecom, Orange's parent company, had previously signed a five-year deal with Apple allowing the carrier to have exclusive distribution rights for the iPhone 3G. In September 2008, a complaint was filed by its competitors stating that the deal was in violation of anti-competition laws and in December the Competition Council ruled against Orange stating the deal risked serious damage to the competition because of the length of the contract.
Since Orange has now lost its most current appeal, the doors are open for other carriers to distribute the iPhone 3G.
Bouygues Telecom, the third largest mobile carrier in France, had a key role in filing the complaint.
"With this decision, Bouygues Telecome will soon offer the iPhone as soon as the conditions for distribution (are) finalized with Apple," the company said in a press release translated from its original French. "This decision is a significant step forward for consumers who can now choose freely."
Bouygues Telecom is already in talks with Apple to sell the iPhone 3G as well as SFR, the second largest French mobile carrier.
AT&T hasn't been challenged much in the U.S. court system over their contract with Apple. We will probably still have to wait until that contract expires in 2011 to have any chance of legitimately using the iPhone on a different carrier's network, regardless of yesterday's ruling.