“After research conducted by two Queensland academics ignited debate yesterday over whether Apple will be allowed to lock the iPhone to an exclusive carrier, legal experts have agreed that to do so might contravene regulations, but it will make little difference to the company or its chosen provider,” Marcus Browne reports for ZDNet Australia.

“According to the research, third-line forcing occurs when ‘company A sells product A on the condition that the purchaser also acquires product B from company B, or company A refuses to sell product A because the prospective purchaser would not agree to acquire product B from company B,'” Browne reports.

“‘Whether the iPhone supply breaches the third-line forcing prohibition depends quite a bit on how the device is sold,’ said Robert Neely, trade practices expert and partner at Sydney based law firm Henry Davis York,” Browne reports.

“Ayman Guirguis, partner at law firm Blake Dawson Waldron, told ZDNet.com.au that while third-line force is ‘automatically illegal’ under Australian trade practices law, it is a highly contentious issue, as many large companies engage in deals with consumers that could be construed as third-line force infringements,” Browne reports. “”The case in point would be petrol vouchers. If you shop with a certain supermarket, by spending a certain amount you’re entitled to four cents off a litre of petrol at the pump with its aligned supplier,’ said Guirguis. ‘It’s also extremely common within the telecommunications sphere where a customer is bound to a certain network based on the fact that the carrier incurs the initial cost of the phone itself.'”

Browne reports, “Blake Dawson Waldron’s Guirguis said that the necessary exception to avoid an infringement under the law is that Apple seek approval to lock the device from the ACCC in advance, as the authority has discretionary powers allowing it to weigh up whether the ‘public benefit of such a practice offsets the anti-competitive detriment,’ as is the case with supermarket fuel vouchers.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]