Europe announces anti-trust investigation of Apple

Once again, Apple – the world’s largest technology company – has come under regulatory scrutiny in Europe. The Associated Press reports that the European Commission has launched an investigation to determine whether the company and some of its business partners breached anti-trust rules with contracts to sell e-books through the Apple Store.

In advance of the release of the iPad last year, Apple completed contracts with several major global publishers to allow the Apple store to sell many popular e-books. Unlike traditional contracts, Apple arranged to allow the publishers to set the ultimate sale price, rather than simply agreeing on a wholesale price and leaving the rest to individual retailers.

The European Commission has grown concerned that such a policy could lead to a decline in competition between retailers, though it stopped short of claiming the companies breached anti-trust regulations.

Others, however, have already made such claims, with one lawsuit in the U.S. alleging that Apple collaborated with publishers to raise prices in order to boost profits and put pressure on other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, according to Computerworld.

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