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December 7th, 1999

[3:45 PM] Apple Attracts The Ire Of Japan's Fair Trade Commission
by Staff

The courts and legal system have seemed to swing Apple's way during the last many months, but this may have changed in Japan. Though everyone and their brother has latched onto the story, it appears as if Reuters were the first to break the fact that Apple Japan was raided by their Fair Trade Commission. At issue is whether Apple conspired to maintain pricing on the iMac and iBook in the Japanese market. According to the Reuters Report:

A company spokeswoman confirmed that the watchdog Fair Trade Commission made an inspection, but she could not immediately give the reason. She declined to comment further, and the commission said it could not make any immediate comment.

Media reports said the commission suspects Apple Japan violated antitrust laws, pressuring retailers not to sell its popular iMac desktop and iBook notebook personal computers below retail list prices by threatening to suspend shipments.

This follows a string of court decisions favoring Apple in its pursuit of stopping iMac rip-offs, many of which have been in Japan. Apple was not available for comment.

The Mac Observer Spin: Apple has been kicking butt, and taking names in Japan for most of the last 15 months. At times, they have had time to alphabetize those names in the process. Recently Apple's market share has taken on mythical proportions, and there is no wonder that Apple has tried to maintain pricing support in the face of so much demand as the Japanese market can be very competitive. The only problem with that is that it smacks of anti-competitive practices and even has a faint Microsoft ring to it. Apple has had similar problems with US distributors and dealers but has used marketing money to try and maintain their official pricing policies. Those retailers who oriced below Apple's desired pricing levels were not eligible for marketing incentives.

Of course, Apple Japan was simply searched. Apple has not yet been convicted of any wrong doing, or even necessarily charged as if yet. Japan's Fair Trade Commision simply went looking for evidence.


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