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Saturday, September 25, 2010, 05:45 am PT (08:45 am ET)

European Union ends antitrust investigations of Apple

The European Union has ended two antitrust investigations into Apple's iPhone policies after Apple relaxed developer restrictions and introduced cross-border warranty repair service.

According to a statement released Saturday by the EU, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia "welcomed" Apple's changes to its policies and intended to close the investigations.

Apple had come under criticism for its restrictions of intermediary translation or compatibility tools. After Adobe, which had developed a Flash to iPhone porting tool, lodged an official complaint, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reportedly opened an anti-trust investigation of Apple.

Word of the European investigation of Apple's anti-flash stance came in August shortly after news of the FTC investigation broke. However, according to Friday's statement from the EU, the European Competition launched both its investigations on Apple's iPhone policies in the spring of this year.

In early September, Apple relaxed restrictions banning third-party development tools for iOS. Following the announcement, Adobe resumed development of its Flash to iPhone tool for Flash Professional. The relaxed restrictions have also allowed the return of Google Voice-enabled apps and ringtone generating apps.

The second issue of concern for the EU was Apple's "country of purchase rule," which made repair services available only in the country where the iPhone was purchased. The Commission feared this would result in "a partitioning of the market" by dissuading consumers from buying iPhones in EU countries other than their own. Apple is no longer enforcing the rule, and has appointed Authorized Service Providers to offer "cross-border iPhone warranty services" where it is unable to provide repairs itself, the EU statement said.

The European Competition Commission was pleased with the effectiveness of its investigation. "Apple's response to our preliminary investigations shows that the Commission can use the competition rules to achieve swift results on the market with clear benefits for consumers, without the need to open formal proceedings," Almunia said.

The EU's statement came the day after the Department of Justice announced a settlement ending another investigation. The settlement forbids Apple and five other companies from entering into "no solicitation agreements."