France taking Google & Apple to court for 'abusive trade practices' with developers

Screenshot by Claudia Cruz  CNET

Screenshot by Claudia Cruz CNET

"They can't treat our startups and developers the way they do".

France will file a lawsuit against USA tech giants Google and Apple for "abusive commercial practices", which include unilaterally imposing contractual terms on startups and developers, the country's economy minister said on Wednesday.

Several clauses have been found by the ministry to be in breach on French law, by creating a significant imbalance at the expense of developers, causing harm to them but also to the economy as a whole.

France will sue Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) for abusive practices against developers. Le Maire added he finds unacceptable that both companies can also gather data from the developers and "unilaterally modify contracts". An Apple spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. Fines are likely to be about 2 million euros ($2.5 million) per company, accused of taking advantage of local developers.

Mr Le Maire said the action could result in fines of millions of euros for both firms.

France has had a complicated relationship with Internet giants.

Earlier this month, Le Maire told the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the European Union was planning a new tax rate for tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon later this month after years of frustration that the companies were paying too little tax from European profits by rerouting the revenues into low-tax havens like Luxembourg and Ireland. They've cited the quality of candidates as the main reason for setting up labs in and around Paris on themes from artificial intelligence to delivery drones.

Le Maire speaking on RTL radio stated that the practices performed by Apple and Google have been recently noticed by him. The findings of a similar inquiry into Amazon past year are being reviewed by a tribunal, his office said.

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