Korea's Fair Trade Commission is winding down their case against Apple, but a final vote on Apple's corrective measures is months away
In June 2016 Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed it was Investigating Apple's Unfair Contracts with wireless carriers. In 2018 the FTC warned that Apple could face sanctions for dumping iPhone ad costs on local telecom operators. Last year we posted another related report titled "Apple asks South Korea's Fair Trade Commission to Adopt a Consent Decree to end Dispute over Competition Law."
Fast forwarding to today we're learning that the case against Apple could be winding down under certain strict conditions. According to Korean news reports on the matter posted yesterday, the Korean FTC decided to initiate a consent resolution.
The initiation means that the case can be closed, without any legal compliance-related disputes, based on a conclusion that Apple's corrective measures are adequate. Previously, the commission turned down measures Apple submitted in September 2019 and May of this year due to the lack of concreteness.
The latest corrective measures of Apple include cost burden reduction for the mobile carriers and discussion-based cost sharing. In addition, the measures include ways to eliminate the lopsided terms, stop the interference, and prepare some fund for a constructive relationship with small businesses, program developers and consumers.
With the procedure initiated, Apple must submit detailed corrective measures to the commission within one month.
Then, interested parties will look into the measures for a couple of months and vote on them.
Depending on the voting result, Apple can avoid prosecution and a penalty of tens of billions of won. Many in the local industry are seeing this as impunity.
The Commission Explained: "The current status is not consent resolution confirmation and the procedure will start only when the measures are finalized through a plenary meeting."
The FTC added that "Although there are some mentions that we are going easy on Apple, legal considerations and requirements applied to the consent resolution are very strict." Apple’s measures may not be accepted in the end, so it's not a done deal just yet.
On Apple's part, they stated in their press statement that "We don't believe we have done anything wrong but are happy to put this process behind us so we can focus on doing even more for our customers and communities."