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Apple’s consent decree proposal nixed by FTC

Oct 01,2019
Apple’s plan for addressing its potentially abusive market practices has been rejected by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

The antitrust body said in a statement Monday that it could not make a conclusive decision whether to accept or reject Apple’s proposal, requesting revisions for an updated review.

Apple stands accused of abuses related to shifting the cost of advertising and warranties to local carriers. It had been in negotiations with the regulators to arrive at a so-called consent decree, which would put to rest accusations of potential violations of competition laws in exchange for certain voluntary restraints.

It would not be an admission of wrongdoing.

Apple filed for a consent decree in June after being under FTC investigation for alleged violations against SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ since 2016.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based smartphone maker could face fines up to 2 percent of its related sales over the violations.

The FTC, however, remained open to an improved consent decree request, saying that it would review an updated proposal after Apple expressed its intentions to develop one.

An official at the antitrust body explained it could not disclose the details of FTC’s request to Apple as the information is confidential, adding that there is no set deadline for Apple to submit the new request.

The FTC’s announcement to accept a new consent decree request further delays the years-long deliberations over Apple’s violations. The regulator had been unable to expedite its decision on Apple after Kim Sang-jo, its former chief, was appointed as policy secretary at the Blue House in June.

If Apple decides against making a new offer, the deliberation process would continue, and hefty fines are possible.

The newly-appointed chief of the FTC, Joh Sung-wook, vowed to maintain a fair stance prior to deliberations on Apple’s case last week.

The antitrust body has been disinclined to consider consent decrees. The most recent four requests, which includes one from Qualcomm, were rejected.

Qualcomm’s consent decree over its abuse of market dominance was denied in December 2016. The FTC fined it over 1 trillion won ($854.8 million) for fair trade violations that same month.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]


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