SEJONG, Jul. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean unit of U.S. tech giant Apple Inc. has offered to carry out a set of voluntary corrective measures, an official said Thursday, in an apparent move to end a legal dispute over its alleged violation of competition law.
Apple Korea is suspected of having required South Korean mobile phone carriers — SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. — to pay the cost of television advertisements for its iPhones and their warranty costs.
The Fair Trade Commission conducted a probe into Apple Korea in 2016 and has since held deliberation on the case three times.
Apple has said that advertisements benefit both the company and South Korean mobile carriers and that the action was fully justifiable.
But the commission has claimed Apple holds a clear advantage over local mobile carriers and that shifting the cost of advertisements is only another means to squeeze the profits of the carriers.
Last month, Apple Korea filed an application with the commission to try to win a consent decree that would end the legal dispute without going to court.
Under the law, an applicant is required to state a correction scheme necessary to restore competition practices or to improve trading practices, and to remedy or prevent damages to consumers and other business entities.
Song Sang-min, director general handing the issue at the commission, declined to elaborate on Apple Korea’s specific measures.
The commission said it will decide in the coming weeks whether to begin the process of a consent decree on Apple Korea, though it did not provide a specific time frame.
If the commission decides to launch the process, the commission will come up with provisional corrective measures in consultation with Apple Korea before collecting opinions of relevant parties and finalizing a consent decree.
Apple Korea expressed regret over the commission’s handling of the issue.
“We are deeply disappointed with the approach the KFTC has chosen to take in this matter and strongly disagree with their actions because Apple has done nothing wrong,” Apple Korea said in a statement, referring to the commission.
The law stipulates any consent decree adopted by the commission does not mean that the relevant conduct is recognized as a violation of the law.