Canadian reseller tries to sue Apple for CA$5m

Alleges Apple used dodgy Ts&Cs, entrapment

Apple Canada has been sued by a local reseller, Computer Buyer's Warehouse Direct (CBWD), for alleged antitrust actions.

The suit against the Mac maker demands CA$5m in damages. CBWD's beef centres on allegations that Apple Canada set the reseller up to infringe the vendor's terms and conditions in order to have an excuse to rescind CBWD's authorised reseller status.

The company, which had worked with Apple for five years, says it was named an Apple Direct Dealer, and when it published its first mail-order catalogue last May, Apple immediately terminated its authorisation. How? Apple forced CBWD, the reseller claims, to restrict its sales to an area with a 200km radius drawn from the reseller's Markham, Ontario base (Apple Canada is headquartered in the same city).

CBWD alleges Apple Canada then got someone outside that area to buy an Apple product from the catalogue. By servicing the order, CBWD violated Apple's Ts&Cs, so Apple pulled its authorisation. Why? According to CBWD, the plan was hatched to allow Apple Canada to limit itself to a single catalogue reseller, MacWarehouse. That was an anti-competitive act, says the aggrieved dealer.

CBWD also claims Apple Canada has refused repeated requests from the reseller to regain its authorisation for catalogue sales. So far, Apple Canada has yet to comment on the case, but the bizarre terms of CBWD's catalogue reseller status suggest there may be something in it.

Still, you have to ask why the reseller allowed itself to be so easily entrapped (assuming, of course, it was, and that's by no means proven). If it was smart enough to figure out there might be more to Apple's Ts&Cs, why was it so dim that it let Apple make such a use them? Certainly, CBWD chief executive Lorne Cherry told Canadian Mac website EhMac that his company was attempting to comply with Apple's Ts&Cs very carefully. ®

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