Apple, its major wholesalers and distributors reportedly searched by French antitrust watchdog

Apple, its major wholesalers and distributors reportedly searched by French antitrust watchdog

A 24-hour investigation of Apple, its major wholesalers and distributors took place in France last week, according to Les Echos.

The financial newspaper says Autorite de la Concurrence, the French competition authority, has confirmed the searches took place but declined to offer any further comment. Documents were reportedly seized by investigators during the raids, although how many and to what purpose is not yet known.

Les Echos suggests that the investigation might have been carried out over ongoing concerns with Apple’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. eBizcuss, then the largest Apple reseller in France, sued the technology giant in December 2011 for what it described as an unfair advantage over stock and new shipments.

The company claimed that it suffered a 30 percent drop in business across its 16 locations during the third quarter of 2011 because its supply of iPad 2 tablets and MacBook Air laptops “dried up.” The company then went into liquidation on 31 July, 2012 after 36 years of trading.

Apple has been hit with all sorts of allegations and investigations over the years, but the scrutiny just keeps piling up. The company introduced a new warranty policy in Belgium, France and Germany last month, offering a two year guarantee as standard following multiple fines from Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, Italy’s antitrust authority.

It follows a request from the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM) in France that demanded Apple pay 5 million euros ($6.5 million) in royalties and taxes on iPads sold in 2011.

Fleur Pellerin, minister of digital economy for the French government, then spoke out against Apple in April this year when AppGratis was pulled from the App Store. She accused Apple of being “extremely brutal” for banning the app discovery tool, and called on the company to “behave ethically” in the future. “This isn’t virtuous and dignified behaviour for a company of that scale,” Ms Pellerin said.

It’s not known which, if any of these cases are related to the raids carried out by Autorite de la Concurrence last week. TNW has reached out to the antitrust authority to determine why it carried out the investigation, as well as the timeframe for a possible resolution.

Hat-tip: Slashgear

Image Credit: WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

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