Court bans VoIP app on iPhone

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Court bans VoIP app on iPhone

A ruling was just issued by the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Hamburg, Germany banning VoIP on the Apple iPhone. Specifically, the sipgate VoIP app (image right) has been banned - all part of T-Mobile's ongoing fight to block VoIP on the iPhone.

Apparently, the court felt that sipgate would "lure" iPhone users into "jailbreaking" their iPhones. WTF? Banning software because it might entice customers to do something bad? Glad I live in the good ole' freedom-loving USA where we punish people for committing crimes not for "intentions" of committing crimes, jailbreaking iPhones, violating terms of service contracts, etc.

There is a single instance for appeals past this court (Bundesgerichtshof) so there is some hope this decision will be repealed.

sipgate's Thilo Salmon told me, "Unfortunately, T-Mobile has found a court to ban VoIP from the iPhone. I am glad to report though, that we have found a court to hold up the current ban of their iPhone ads in Germany. I guess, that at least eases the pain."

According to Thilo, here is exactly what happened:

1) T-Mobile has managed to bring a court to crack down on our VoIP application for the iPhone. T-Mobile has claimed our labeling the software as "beta" is misleading, as this allegedly does not point out the pre-release nature of our software. Furthermore, we would lure customers into jailbreaking their 2G iPhones (and their terms and conditions) as using sipgate is too attractive. While charming, we dispute this.

This injunctions comes after almost two month of jurisdiction shopping by T-Mobile. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Hamburg has now issued a preliminary injunction barring us from advertising and distributing the software. It is still a bit too early to tell what we can do next owing to the complex legal nature of this move. I like to point out, that sipgate has not been heard by the court prior to issuing the injunction.

2) In a related matter we had a German court preliminarily ban T-Mobile's iPhone ads on the grounds that they are misleading. T-Mobile has advertised its plans as "free Internet access with unlimited usage" but has put a number of severe restrictions on its use. Not at least did they ban the use of VoIP.

After a hearing the Regional Court (LG) of Hamburg has now decided to uphold the injunction.

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