French newspaper Les Échos reports [Google translation, via SlashGear] that investigators with the country's Competition Authority raided the offices of Apple's French arm last week as part of an investigation into the company's treatment of its resellers. According to the report, the agency is investigating whether Apple offers preferential treatment for its own outlets while disadvantaging independent retailers selling Apple products.
The investigation was sparked by complaints from reseller eBizcuss, which had sued Apple in late 2011, charging that product shortages, credit line decreases, and required store upgrades were making it nearly impossible for independent retailers to survive. eBizcuss ceased operations last year.
Today's report indicates that investigators searched the offices of Apple France, as well as those of several distributors, seizing documents addressing Apple's relationships with those distributors and ultimately resellers.
In addition to the controversy over Apple's treatment of its resellers, French authorities are also examining the behavior of not only Apple but also Amazon and Google for "lock-in" on their application marketplaces that make it difficult for consumers to change platforms. That investigation has apparently been driven by Apple's move to increase the minimum selling prices of newspaper and magazine content, a move that has apparently left some developers feeling trapped between Apple's policies and their customer bases locked into the iOS platform.