Italy anti-trust fines Apple for misleading customers

ROME Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:33am EST

The Apple logo is displayed onstage before a product unveiling event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 4, 2011.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The Apple logo is displayed onstage before a product unveiling event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-trust body has fined units of U.S. technology group Apple Inc a total of 900,000 euros for failing to adequately inform customers about their rights to product guarantees and assistance.

The authority said Apple Sales International, Apple Italia and Apple Retail Italia did not properly inform customers that they were entitled to two years of free assistance under Italian law. Three Apple spokesmen contacted by Reuters weren't immediately available for comment.

Information provided about an extra guarantee scheme, the "AppleCare Protection Plan," encouraged customers to buy the service without clearly explaining that it overlapped with the free assistance required by law, the competition authority said.

Apple faces a separate investigation by European regulators into whether it struck price-fixing deals with e-book publishers, blocking rivals and hurting consumers.

EU antitrust authorities are also probing Apple over its patents dispute with Samsung Electronics due to concerns that intellectual property rights may be unfairly used by some firms against their rivals.

(Reporting By Danilo Masoni and Catherine Hornby; Writing By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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