Apple Korea Ltd., the South Korean unit of U.S. tech giant Apple Inc., has proposed consent decree to the Korean antitrust authority by offering remedial actions on claims about dumping advertisement and marketing costs onto local mobile carriers.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) announced Thursday that its investigation on Apple Korea for possible abuse of power has been temporarily suspended as the company applied for the consent decree process and voluntarily proposed some corrective measures to restore market order and redress consumer damages. If the authority approves the process, the probe will end without finding any liability for the allegations.
Apple Korea has been accused of translating advertising and free repair service costs onto three local wireless carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus. The antitrust agency that has conducted three investigations since last April argued that Apple Korea forced the three mobile carriers to buy its products and return some profits, and offered disadvantages if they didn’t accept the demands.
If the FTC agrees to apply the consent decree process, Apple Korea would finalize the corrective measures and the agency would confirm them after gathering opinions from related parties. If the FTC rejects the request, the investigation would resume according to standard procedures.
The antitrust watchdog accepted the consent decree process for the first time in 2014 in its investigation on Naver and Daum, the nation’s top two portal sites, for their alleged power abuse charges. The agency, however, rejected to initiate the process for Qualcomm in 2016 during its probe on the company’s violation of fair trade law, which made the firm pay more than 1 trillion won ($854.9 million) in fine.
By Yoon Jin-ho and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]