U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez gave his support to Apple's angry protests over a new French law that would force the company's popular iTunes music store to open to competitors' formats.
Speaking on the CNBC network, Gutierrez backed Apple's comments on the recently approved legislation, but said he needed to make further study of the copyright law passed by the French parliament's lower house this week
"I would compliment that company because we need for companies to also stand up for their intellectual property rights," Gutierrez said.
"If we all do that, have the government work with other governments, have companies defend and protect their own intellectual property, then we'll be able to make more progress on a worldwide basis."
The French legislative chamber on Tuesday passed a bill that would force Apple to make its downloads work on all digital music players and not just on the iPod.
But Apple has condemned the French bill, which has yet to be passed by the upper house, as no more than "state-sponsored piracy".
"If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers," it said.