The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) [official website, in Italian] announced [text, PDF, in Italian] Monday that it may shut down Apple [corporate website] operations in Italy for 30 days and fined the company up to 300,000 euros (USD $377,500) for unfair commercial practices. The authority claims that Apple misled customers by not advising them of their legal right to a free two-year warranty, required under Italian law. Instead, Apple marketed its AppleCare Protection Plan, a paid service. Apple was already fined [press release] 900,000 euros ($1.1 million) in December for unfair commercial practices after an investigation that revealed the same violations related to the free two-year service. However, since Apple had failed to comply with the antitrust ruling, AGCM decided to take further steps to force the US-based company to change its policy.
This is not the first time Apple has been fined for unfair marketing practices. In June, Apple was fined [JURIST report] 2.25 million Australian dollars (USD $2.29 million) by an Australian federal court for its misleading marketing and advertising of iPad tablets. Apple advertised its tablets as "iPad with WiFi + 4G" misleading customers to believe that the new iPads were compatible with the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data network that was launched by Telstra Corporation Limited [corporate website] in September 2011 when in fact they were not. Apple knew that its product was not able to utilize the 4G network but ignored the warning by continuing the misleading advertising for two additional months. During the same month, a US federal court ruled [JURIST report] that Apple must defend against lawsuits filed by the company's customers under two California consumer protection laws. Plaintiffs were allowed to pursue claims that Apple caused them to overpay for their devices.