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Apple's French offices raided by watchdog group

A French watchdog group invaded Apple's France offices in ongoing antitrust investigations. 

By Contributor / July 1, 2013

People wait on a street in front of an Apple store as they await sales of the new iPad in the Apple store in Munich last year. A French watchdog group conducted a raid at Apple's offices last week.

Michaela Rehle/Reuters/File

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A French watchdog group raided Apple's France offices in ongoing antitrust investigations against giant tech companies, according to a statement released by the French competition regulator on Monday. 

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A raid of Apple and its suppliers and distributors was related to the company’s pricing practices, which some third-party retailers say undercut their prices and drove them out of business, reported Les Echos, a French business news publisher.

One of these French Apple retailers, eBizcuss filed suit against Apple in April 2012 before it went bankrupt. The third-party retailer accused Apple of not keeping the store well-enough stocked to be competitive. The chief executive of eBizcuss, François Prudent says that sales fell 30 percent in the last quarter of 2011 because eBizcuss did not receive a large enough supply of iPads and MacBook Airs.

Mr. Prudent also claims that Apple solicited business directly from customers by charging eBizcuss more for wholesale Apple products than the retail price in Apple stores. eBizcuss did not even have a chance to compete with Apple’s retail store prices, Prudent is quoted as saying in a report by ifoAppleStore.com.

In May, the French government discussed charging a 1 percent “cultural tax” on the sale of smartphones, tablets, and other Internet devices. The tax would raise an estimated 86 million € ($111.2 million) a year. The revenue would be used for cultural initiatives.

This new tax would affect not only Apple, but also other Internet device retailers like Android, Amazon.com, and Google.

Apple has also come under fire in France for failing to pay a preexisting culture tax on iPads sold in 2011, according to a report by the French tech blog, RudeBaguette.com. This cultural tax applies to digital services that transmit copyrighted material.

The French professional organization for artists and authors (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique) announced in late May that it never received the 5 million € that Apple owed the organization, although Apple had already charged consumers the tax, RudeBaguette.com reported.  

In the Court of Justice of the European Union, Apple has been tied up with an antitrust case filed by Samsung. The Korean company accused Apple of abusing essential patents. Samsung is in early talks with the EU antitrust regulator to settle these charges, according to Reuters

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