Apple plans to appeal against €1.1bn French antitrust fine

16 Mar 2020133 Views

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Apple has received a €1.1bn fine after French authorities concluded that the business engaged in anti-competitive practices. The company said that it intends to appeal the decision.

On Monday (16 March), the Autorité de la Concurrence (France’s competition authority) announced that it was fining Apple €1.1bn for illegally restricting how wholesalers sell Apple products.

In addition, two “premium” resellers based in France, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were also fined a total of €139m for striking deals with the company to align their prices with Apple’s own pricing for iPads and other products.

The news comes as the French authority concludes a probe that began in 2012, when a reseller called eBizcuss.com launched a complaint, shortly before it went out of business, according to Politico.

A significant fine

In the past, the French authority has hit companies such as telecoms operator Orange with large fines, charging the business €350m. The authority also fined L’Oréal €189m in 2014. However in this case, the authority says it is the largest fine it has ever issued.

French authorities have concluded that the tech giant is guilty of a number of anti-competitive practices. As well as striking deals with premium resellers, the company stopped resellers from being able to lower their prices, keeping pricing identical across almost half of the retail market, according to The Verge.

The company was also accused of treating premium resellers unfairly and “limiting their supply” compared to its own stores. The company announced plans to appeal the ruling, claiming that it went against legal precedent in France.

The French competition watchdog said: “Apple and two wholesalers agreed not to compete with each other and to prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilising the wholesale market for Apple products.”

Abuse of economic dependence

Isabelle de Silva, president of the French competition watchdog, said: “Given the strong impact of these practices on the competition in the distribution of Apple products via Apple premium resellers, the authority imposes the highest penalty ever pronounced in a case.

“It is also the heaviest sanction ever pronounced against an economic player, in this case Apple, whose extraordinary dimension has been duly taken into account.

“Finally, the authority considered that, in the present case, Apple had committed an abuse of economic dependence on its premium retailers, a practice which the authority considers to be particularly serious.”

In a statement, the company said: “The French competition authority’s decision is disheartening. It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards 30 years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries.”

In the US, the FTC announced last year that it planned to investigate a deal between Amazon and Apple, which would make it difficult for small sellers to resell Apple products.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com