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Fair Trade officials tick off Apple Japan

Price fixing suspected - but not proved

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Japan's Fair Trade Commission today announced it had officially warned Apple's Japanese operation not to force retailers to sell consumer-oriented iBooks and iMacs at list price or above.

The warning follows a ten-month investigation into Apple Japan over suspected retail price fixing - a violation of Section 19, Articles 12 (retail price maintenance) and 13 (illegal restrictions on trading) of the Japanese Anti-monopoly Law. The examination kicked off with raids on Apple's Japanese HQ last December.

The FTC said in a statement that the enquiry was now complete, and that it believed the Mac maker had indeed applied pressure to retailers to ensure they didn't undercut Apple's list prices.

However, the statement also said that no penalty would be imposed on Apple, suggesting the price-fixing was not widespread, or that the FTC could find no solid evidence for it.

Certainly, Apple has always denied any wrongdoing, or at least nothing that's illegal. "We believe our business activities did not breach Japanese laws," an Apple spokesperson said, cited by Reuters. ®

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