French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire says US tech giants will be sued for ‘abusive commercial practices’
By Hajer M’tiri
France will file a lawsuit against U.S. 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.
“I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts,” Bruno Le Maire told French RTL radio.
“All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want. As powerful as they are, Google and Apple can’t treat our startups and developers the way they do,” he said, adding: “I will therefore be taking Google and Apple to the Paris commercial court for abusive trade practices.”
Le Maire said the fines could be in the “millions of euros.”
According to Le Maire’s office, a probe by the ministry’s fraud office determined that between 2015 and 2017 there were “significant imbalances” in the relationship between the two companies and developers who sold via their application stores.
In response to the French minister, Google said in a statement: “With more than 1000 downloads per second, Google Play is a great way for European app developers large and small, including many in France, to distribute their apps to people all around the world.”
The statement said google has been collaborating with French Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) on many topics, including on Google Play, over the last few years.
“We believe our terms comply with French laws and are looking forward to making our case in court.”
A court is looking into the findings of a similar probe launched last year into Amazon.com Inc.
The French economy ministry is seeking to fine Amazon 10 million euros ($12.4 billion), according to media reports.