France to sue Google, Apple over developer contracts: minister

FILE PHOTO: An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar
FILE PHOTO: 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, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
The Google logo is seen at the "Station F" start up campus in Paris, France, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Wednesday it will take Google and Apple to court and seek fines of 2 million euros ($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 and Amazon by the start of 2019. Brussels is currently examining measures to improve the taxation of overseas tech giants' online business in European markets.

($1 = 0.8093 euros)

(Reporting by Laurence Frost and Julie Carriat; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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