France’s competition watchdog announced on Monday it has fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for reportedly violating antitrust laws, the biggest antitrust fine it has ever levied.
The French watchdog accuses Apple of exhibiting anti-competitive behavior through its distribution network, including reported abuse of the economic dependence of its resellers. The company plans to appeal.
Two Apple wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were also fined $84.7 million and $69 million for illegally agreeing to unfair prices.
“Apple and its two wholesalers have agreed not to compete with each other and to prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products,” the competition watchdog said.
“It is the heaviest sanction pronounced against an economic player, in this case Apple, whose extraordinary size has been duly taken into account,” said Isabelle de Silva, director of the agency, in a statement.
The French fine for anti-competitive behavior reportedly focuses on Apple products and services, not including the iPhone.
French fine on Apple for anti-competitive behavior
VentureBeat points out that this case relates to a long-running dispute between Apple and one of its leading French resellers, eBizcuss. In late 2011, eBizcuss sued Apple for unfair practices. It was alleged that Apple cut the retailer’s shipments of iPads and MacBook Airs after it had spent $6.5 million on upgrading its point-of-sale systems to Apple standards.
In 2013, French antitrust authorities raided Apple offices, wholesalers, and retail stores in France as part of the investigation.
This is not the first time this year Apple has been punished in France. Earlier in 2020, Apple was fined 25 million euros ($27.4 million) in France. This was after it was found guilty of intentionally throttling the speed of older iPhones with previous software updates for iOS.
A report published Friday by Reuters notes that the head of France’s antitrust watchdog, Isabelle de Silva, has “set her sights” on U.S. tech giants. She has previously fined Google 150 million euros ($167 million) for opaque advertising rules.
Update: Apple issued a statement to CNBC. It reads: “The French Competition Authority’s decision is disheartening. It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal.”
Source: L’Autorité de la concurrence