Apple wants to settle antitrust standoff with South Korean regulators

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South Korea3
Apple's South Korean Apple Store.
Photo: Apple

Apple has come up with a proposal that would end a dispute with South Korea’s antitrust regulator.

Apple stands accused of abusing its dominant position in the marketplace. It reportedly did this by requiring phone carriers in the country to pay for the cost of iPhone ads on TV.

Apple has argued that this was perfectly fair, because the ads benefitted Apple as well as phone carriers. However, regulators said that Apple has obvious power over local carriers. By shifting the cost of ads, it’s therefore squeezing profits unlawfully.

In response, Apple has asked the regulator for a “consent decree.” This is essentially an out-of-court settlement that would bring an end to the dispute. The commission will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to adopt a consent decree with Apple Korea.

Challenges for Apple

This isn’t the first time Apple has run afoul of South Korea since the iPhone first went on sale there in 2009. Over that time,  it has been criticized by South Korean regulators and in the local press.

Roger Kay, president of the tech analysis firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, has previously accused South Korea of having a “protectionist agenda.” Kay says that the Korea Fair Trade Commission has been known for, “slapping spurious charges on foreign companies.”

South Korea isn’t the only country to get on Apple’s case about this mobile carrier ad deal, however. Taiwan fined Apple 20 million Taiwanese dollars ($683,068) for  this in 2013. In 2016, France also fined Apple 48.5 million euros ($59.39 million) for the same thing.

Source: The Investor