Apple under investigation from Japan's FTC for pressuring parts makers: Report

Around 10 Japanese companies reportedly received demands to give technology and knowledge for free.

Japan's Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has commenced an investigation into Apple's conduct with Japanese part makers and whether it has been coercing them into supplying technologies and knowledge for free.

First reported by Japanese news outlet Manichi, Apple reportedly demanded around 10 Japanese electronic and optical parts manufacturers hand over access to their technologies, knowledge, and other intellectual property for free or they would lose Apple as their client.

A representative from a Japanese company told the JFTC that it complied with Apple's demands because it did not want to lose its ties with Apple.

The JFTC initially discovered the alleged monopolistic behaviour through a survey in autumn 2018 about Japanese businesses and their transactions with other companies.

See also: Apple will end up doing what Intel could not

Another Japanese firm reportedly told the JFTC that Apple intensified price competition and lowered the prices of parts by disclosing technologies and know-how provided by Japanese companies to other parts makers.

This isn't the first time that Apple has gone under the JFTC's microscope, with the competition watchdog last year investigating whether Apple had breached Japanese competition laws by requiring carriers to sell iPhones at a lower cost than its competition. 

The JFTC did not punish Apple for this however, as the US company came to an agreement to revise its contracts with the carriers, it said.

In the US, Apple is currently facing a lawsuit from two iOS developers, who are seeking class-action status for their case, for allegedly attaining monopoly power in the US market for distributing iOS apps by barring rivals. The lawsuit claims that Apple's 30% cut is "overly expensive" and that its $99 annual developer fee has "cut unlawfully" into developers' potential earnings.

The company launched its Apple Card on Tuesday, with preview invites currently being sent out to randomly selected users that signed up for notifications on the Apple Card website. It also acquired Intel's scrapped 5G modem business for $1 billion late last month.

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