Japan’s Fair Trade Commission is investigating Apple’s tactics for selling iPhones in the country.
The Japanese FTC thinks Apple might have abused its power by pressuring Japanese suppliers into unfavorable deals. Questionable methods allegedly include providing free technology and expertise to Apple affiliates, stopping them from selling to other companies, and making them shoulder costs for unforeseen problems.
When one unnamed company suggested such actions represented an infringement on intellectual property rights, Apple threatened to end their business relationship, according to Reuters.
This isn’t the first time Apple has been investigated by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission for the company’s business practices. Last year, the commission investigated Apple over claims that it pressured Yahoo Japan to slow expansion of its online games platform. (The Yahoo property supposedly competed with the App Store.)
Apple in Japan
Apple has long had a special connection with Japan. Founder Steve Jobs expressed a lifelong affection for the country and visited often. In 2003, Japan became the first country outside of the United States to receive an Apple Store. Apple reportedly plans to open two new stores there in 2019.
While most of Apple’s supply chain is in China, the company does employ suppliers based in Japan. It remains unclear which of those companies complained to the Japan’s Fair Trade Commission.