South Korean authorities are investigating Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), according to a Reuters report this morning. And while Korean authorities aren't discussing details, the probe may have something to do with Apple's contracts with mobile network operators.
Reuters reported that Jeong Jae-chan, chairman of South Korean's Fair Trade Commission (FTC), said during a parliamentary hearing that the agency is looking into "some matters" regarding Apple. But Jae-chan didn't disclose any details and declined to comment further when pressed on the matter by a Korean legislator.
As BGR noted, Korean media outlets reported earlier this month that the FTC had set its sights on Apple's contracts with wireless service providers in that market. Apple was said to demand that operators buy a minimum number of iPhones per order, and to force carriers to help pay to repair Apple's handsets.
Such allegations aren't entirely new to Apple, which continues to enjoy enormous prowess around the world thanks to the success of its iconic iPhone. Earlier this year, reports indicated regulators in France were seeking more than $55 million from Apple over claims the company illegally exerts power over carriers. France's Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control took Apple to court, outlining 10 clauses in the company's contracts it asked to be removed.
Among other things, the contracts in France allegedly require operators to order a minimum number of devices over three years, to contribute to marketing campaigns managed by Apple, and to finance in-store showcasing of the iPhone. They prevent carriers from establishing their own contracts and payments for service on Apple devices and from using Apple's brands as they like, although Apple can use the carriers' brands as it sees fit.
Going further back, the European Commission in 2013 sent a questionnaire to operators regarding allegations that Apple forces them to accept strict terms that make it difficult to sell other handsets, although the investigation was eventually dropped. And Apple was forced to pay a fine of roughly $647,000 last year for forcing carriers in Taiwan to receive approval for pricing plans for the iPhone.
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