Apple's French offices have reportedly been raided by local officials following claims that its pricing and stock allocation practices were leaving its channel partners out of pocket.
According to French newspaper Les Echos, officials from the French competition watchdog swooped on the premises of Apple – as well as its local distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data – last week.
Documents were seized and are now being examined, the report said.
The raid comes 18 months after France's largest Apple Premium Reseller (APR), eBizcuss, filed a lawsuit accusing the vendor of anti-competitive behaviour.
EBizcuss, which has subsequently gone out of business, claimed it had been dogged by product supply problems since the vendor launched its first Apple store in Paris in 2009. It also alleged that Apple had been selling products directly to business customers at a lower price than it sells to partners.
Robert Peckham, who heads up channel consultancy MacTechnology, said UK APRs will be watching Gallic developments closely.
"There are a lot of people who are annoyed with Apple in the UK - just as there are in France - about how it favours certain channels and its own stores. eBizcuss was just the first reseller to stand up and say 'let's do something about it'. This will give leverage to some of the UK APR stores who feel they have been treated in the same way as eBizcuss."
Les Echos, which cited website Mac4ever in its report, said the French competition authorities had yet to comment other than to confirm the raids.
A representative of Ingram Micro confirmed that the French competition authorities had visited its offices, adding that "we are fully cooperating with the investigation".
Tech Data also confirmed French officials had paid it a visit as they gather data on the distribution of certain Apple products. It too said it is fully cooperating.
According to a separate report by GigaOM, French competition authorities are also examining whether Apple – as well as Google and Amazon – violated the law by unfairly "locking in" consumers to app stores.
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