AppleInsider is reporting that Vodafone has obtained a court order that forces rival T-Mobile Germany to sell Apple's iPhone handset to Germans without a service plan.

The temporary injunction has been granted by a court in Hamburg and could mean a stop to iPhone sales in Germany, although it's not clear if this is the case currently.

Vodafone has apparently taken this action in response to the concern that other handset manufacturers may follow Apple's example and begin tying their handsets to specific providers, which would adversely affect the mobile phone market.

The German Vodafone chief executive Friedrich Joussen said in a statement that they want consumers to be able to buy the iPhone without tying themselves into a long contract.

"We want it to be available to buyers without a mandatory calling plan", he said. "If I had wanted to halt sales, I could have, but I didn't."

T-Mobile has 2 weeks to respond, when there will be a definitive ruling from the court.