Apple and AT&T in a Five Year Exclusivity Deal till 2012

Ever since the launch of the Apple iPhone back in 2007 a number of people have speculated on what the length of contract was for AT&T to retain exclusivity of the iPhone in the US. We have heard several times in the past that “exclusivity is ending this month” and it never does.

Engadget did some digging around and have found confirmation that a five year deal was signed between Apple [AAPL] and AT&T [T] starting in 2007 when the iPhone came out and ending in 2012.

The reasons this information is now confirmed is due to some court documents that were filed by Apple in California.

Here’s the deal: an ongoing California class-action lawsuit filed in 2007 claims that Apple and AT&T illegally exerted a monopoly over iPhone service by telling customers the iPhone’s required service contract was two years long when the Apple / AT&T exclusivity deal was actually for five years — thus requiring buyers to re-up with AT&T for three years (and not, say, T-Mobile) if they wanted to keep using the iPhone. Obviously Apple had to respond to these allegations, and in addition to arguing that no one was ever promised an unlocked iPhone after two years, the company’s lawyers repeatedly confirm the existence of the five-year agreement while noting it was publicly reported in USA Today.

All of this happened in October 2008 and pretty much went unnoticed. It isn’t clear if the contract will be voided legally. If that does happen, Verizon could get the iPhone sooner rather than later.

Take a read of the full findings over at Engadget.

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