updated 9/22/2009 9:34:49 PM ET 2009-09-23T01:34:49

Apple Inc. appears to have clearance from an industry group to block rival Palm Inc.'s Pre phone from connecting with the iTunes software.

The $200 Pre was launched in June as a direct competitor to the iPhone, and became the first non-Apple device that could directly connect to iTunes. It did that essentially by pretending to be an iPod.

Apple has crippled that function by updating its software. To get around it, a Pre that is connected to a computer's USB port will give the PC a hardware vendor code that Apple has been assigned by the USB Implementers Forum, a standards group.

Palm complained to the group that Apple was improperly using its USB vendor code to block competitors. But the group disagreed in a letter sent to both companies Tuesday.

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