Report: French regulators seeking $55M from Apple over alleged anticompetitive demands in carrier contracts

Federal regulators in France are reportedly seeking more than $55 million from Apple over claims the company illegally exerts power over carriers.

The country's Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) is taking Apple to court, outlining 10 clauses in the company's contracts that it wants removed. The news was reported by the French site BFM.TV and noted by 9to5Mac.

Among other things, the contracts 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.

The $55 million in damages would primarily be split among France's four largest mobile operators. SFR would get nearly $16 million, more than $13 million would go to Orange, Free Mobile would get $9.3 million and $7.6 million would go to Bourges Telecom.

Regulators around the world have long questioned whether Apple's policies and practices regarding the iPhone are anticompetitive, of course, and the company clearly holds tremendous clout in the form of one of the world's most iconic handsets. 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.

The latest case reportedly addresses Apple practices that go back more than a year, and there's no telling when any resolution might occur. But if the DGCCRF's effort is successful, it could inspire regulators to crack down on Apple in other markets in Europe -- and perhaps beyond.

For more:
- see this 9to5Mac report

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EC's Vestager vows to continue probing Google, Apple's EU tax arrangements

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