France Will Fine Apple and Google for 'Abusive Business Practices'

Screenshot by Claudia Cruz  CNET

Screenshot by Claudia Cruz CNET

A French government minister is planning to sue Google and Apple over alleged "abusive commercial practices" that take advantage of French software developers.

Technology start-ups are a favorite of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought to overhaul the nation's laws and regulations to allow entrepreneurs to flourish.

App developers, for example, were unable to negotiate the fees for having their products listed in Apple's App Store or Google Play.

He said the companies had forced unfair contractual terms and financial agreements onto French start-ups and developers.

"I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts", Le Maire said on RTL radio.

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Apple has yet to comment on the situation, but Google spokeswoman Mathilde Mechin said: "We believe our terms comply with French laws and are looking forward to making our case in court".

"We are ready to explain our position before the courts", it said.

The finance minister will now file a lawsuit with the Paris Commercial Court for what he views as abusive trade practices. This comes after a two-year investigation by the ministry's fraud repression unit, according to an official in Le Maire's office.

In January, the DGCCRF launched a probe against Apple over whether it deliberately phased out older iPhones to force customers to upgrade to a newer model.

That leads companies to declare their earnings in countries like Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, depriving other member states of revenues even though they may account for a bigger share of the earnings. It was revealed in December 2017 that the Finance Ministry is seeking to fine Amazon 10 million euros.

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