Japan’s FTC is probing Apple over the way it sells iPhones in the country

Apple is under investigation for iPhone supply deals in Japan.

Reuters reported today that Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating the Cupertino firm over the way that it sells iPhones in the country, alleging that Apple abused its dominant market position as detailed in Japan’s Antimonopoly Act.

The country’s watchdog suspects that Apple may have exercised pressure on local suppliers in order to force them to sign deals that aren’t really favorable to them because the agreements require them to provide free technology and expertise to Apple’s affiliates.

Japan’s FTC survey of companies showed that Apple had signed contracts forcing firms to provide free technology and know-how to its affiliates for parts manufacturing, the Mainichi said. It also pressured some suppliers to lower components prices and prohibited them from selling parts and technology to other companies, while requiring them to shoulder the costs of any unforeseen issues.

Moreover, the iPhone deals apparently bar suppliers from selling to other firms. After one supplier called these terms an infringement on intellectual property rights, Apple threatened to end their business relationship, says the news gathering organization.

The report falls short of naming the suppliers involved in the complaint to the FTC.

The competition watchdog also probed the iPhone maker in 2018 over claims that it forced Yahoo Japan to slow the expansion of its own online games platform, supposedly because it competed with Apple’s own App Store and the upcoming game-subscriptions service Apple Arcade. In the US, as you know, pressure is mounting on the technology giant over allegations that the App Store policies give it too much control over app sales and in-app purchases.