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According to a report by the Mainichi newspaper earlier today, Apple is being investigated by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) over its alleged pressure on that country’s parts manufacturers and whether it violated anti-monopoly rules by abusing its power.
The investigation comes after Japanese regulators found in 2018 that Apple may have broken anti-trust rules with the manner in which it was selling iPhones in that country.
This is happening against a background of Apple facing increased regulatory pressure in the US. In June, Reuters reported that the American Justice Department has authority for a possible investigation of the company as part of a wider review into how tech giants are using the power their size gives them to behave in an anti-competitive way.
A survey of firms carried out by the FTC reportedly revealed that Apple had forced suppliers to provide free know-how and technology to its parts manufacturing affiliates.
Quoting unnamed sources, the newspaper said that Apple also placed pressure on specific suppliers to reduce component prices and prevented them from selling technology and parts to other businesses. At the same time, it required them to carry the cost of all unforeseen issues.
The moment that such a firm complained about the infringement of its intellectual property rights, or insisted on a revision, Apple forced them back in line by threatening to terminate their business relationship.
So far, Apple hasn’t responded to the newspaper’s request for comment, and the FTC had no immediate comments either.
In 2018, Apple was also investigated by the FTC over claims that it unfairly placed pressure on Yahoo Japan Corp to delay the development of its online games platform, which is in direct competition with the App Store.
The Cupertino-based company might soon also face an investigation in the US over claims that its App Store policies give it too much power over in-app purchases and app sales.