French consumers' group UFC-Que Choisir has launched separate legal proceedings against Apple France and Sony Corp., accusing them of "segmenting the online music market to the detriment of consumers.

French consumers' group UFC-Que Choisir has launched separate legal proceedings against Apple France and Sony Corp., accusing them of "segmenting the online music market to the detriment of consumers."

At the heart of the case are Sony and Apple's proprietary music formats and an alleged lack of interoperability between their technologies and those of other companies.

UFC-Que Choisir filed a lawsuit against Apple and iTunes SARL, the Luxemburg-based company that operates the iTunes Music Store, in the Court of First Instance in Paris. The lawsuit against Sony France, which distributes electronic goods, and Sony U.K., which operates the online music portal Sony Connect, was filed in the Court of First Instance of Nanterre, France.

In both cases, which are due to be heard later this year, UFC-Que Choisir accuses the companies of misleading consumers and binding sales of music to specific electronic equipment.

In a statement, UFC-Que Choisir claims, "Those who decide to buy online music through Sony Connect download a file which is locked by DRM that only Sony equipment can unlock."

A similar lack of interoperability is alleged in the Apple case. UFC-Que Choisir says, "A consumer who buys an Apple player is then obliged to buy its music online from Apple's store if he wants to be able to listen to it on his player."

UFC-Que Choisir claims these practices are "deceitful."

Representatives of Sony and Apple were not available for comment.