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The Federal Court of Canada issued the orders Thursday, granting a series of requests the Competition Bureau filed earlier this month seeking details related to how the carriers set the prices of smartphones and service contracts they sell as well as the number of devices the companies must purchase from Apple

A court has ordered eight Canadian wireless carriers to turn over information in a continuing probe of Apple Inc. by Canada's competition watchdog.

The Federal Court of Canada issued the orders Thursday, granting a series of requests the Competition Bureau filed earlier this month seeking details related to how the carriers set the prices of smartphones and service contracts they sell as well as the number of devices the companies must purchase from Apple.

The orders to produce documents are the latest step in an investigation the bureau launched in March, 2014, into whether Apple and its Canadian subsidiary Apple Canada Inc. acts in an anti-competitive fashion.

The crux of the investigation relates to Apple's contracts with the wireless providers to which it sells iPhones and the extent of the obligations Apple imposes on carriers regarding how they set subsidies and market the device.

The competition authority has alleged the terms of Apple's contracts could be inflating the price of devices as well as wireless plans in Canada and that extends not just to Apple devices, but to the market as a whole.

The bureau has emphasized that the case is at the investigation stage only and no decision has been made to bring an enforcement action against the U.S. technology giant.

The Federal Court ordered Apple to turn over information to the bureau in December and the company produced 46,000 documents in March. But the competition authority said it required more information that Apple either did not provide or which would only be in the possession of the wireless carriers themselves.

It sought production orders compelling disclosure from eight companies that sell the iPhone in Canada: Rogers Communications Inc., BCE Inc.'s Bell Mobility Inc., Telus Corp., Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.'s MTS Inc., SaskTel, Tbaytel, Bragg Communications Inc. (which operates Eastlink Wireless) and Quebecor Inc.'s Vidéotron Ltd. (BCE owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)

After a motion heard on Monday, Justice Paul Crampton issued orders for the carriers to produce the requested information within 90 days.

Also this week, Apple lost a lawsuit in Taiwan, where the island's competition authority accused the company of similar anti-competitive practices. Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission fined the company $20-million Taiwanese dollars ($800,000) for limiting wireless providers from setting the prices for plans associated with several generations of the iPhone. The company also demanded approval of the subsidy amounts, price differentials between new and old models, and marketing practices.

Apple appealed the competition authority's decision but the Taiwan court upheld the fine.

In 2013, the European Commission, a regulatory arm of the European Union, confirmed that it was looking at Apple's carrier agreements. However, the inquiry in that case did not lead to a formal anti-trust investigation.

With a report from Reuters

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