France files lawsuit against Google, Apple over contractual terms

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a news conference after a National Council of Industry at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris, France.

France said on Wednesday it will take Google and Apple to court and seek fines of 2 million euros (an equivalent of $2.5 million) over what it termed abusive contractual terms imposed by the tech giants on startups and developers.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio he had been made aware that Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unilaterally imposed prices and contract changes on developers selling software on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

“I will therefore be taking Google and Apple to the Paris commercial court for abusive trade practices,” Le Maire said.

“As powerful as they are, Google and Apple should not be able to treat our startups and our developers the way they currently do.”

France’s DGCCRF consumer fraud watchdog confirmed in a subsequent statement that it had begun legal action against the U.S. technology groups.

Google spokeswoman Mathilde Mechin said: “We believe our terms comply with French laws and are looking forward to making our case in court.” An Apple spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

Le Maire also said he expected the European Union to close tax loopholes that benefit Google, Apple, Facebook (FB.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) by the start of 2019. Brussels is currently examining measures to improve the taxation of overseas tech giants’ online business in European markets.

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