Apple Wins Huge Reduction Of French Antitrust Fine

French court lowers hefty 1.1 billion euros antitrust fine down to 371.6 million euros, over alleged price fixing with resellers

Apple’s financial pockets will be better off after a ruling by a French court significantly lowered a hefty financial penalty imposed on the iPhone maker.

Back in 2020, the French competition watchdog fined Apple 1.1 billion euros for allegedly pressuring premium resellers into fixing prices of non-iPhone products, Reuters reported.

But now Apple has won a massive reduction in the fine, after the Paris appeals court on Thursday lowered the fine to 371.6 million euros, roughly a third of the value of the original penalty. It is a reduction of 728.4 million euros.

Fine reduction

However while Apple is pleased with the court’s move to reverse part of the French antitrust fine, it believes the decision should be overturned in full and plans to appeal.

At the time, the 1.1 billion euros fine against Apple was the largest ever fine levied by the regulator. The regulator took issue with Apple allegedly imposing prices on retail premium resellers so that the prices were aligned with those charged by Apple in its own shops, or online.

The appeals court backed the antitrust watchdog’s charge that Apple abused the retailers’ economic dependency on the company, but tossed the fixed-pricing charge, one of the two sources told Reuters.

It also reduced the time scope of the charge of an alleged restriction of the wholesalers’ clientele, the same source said.

The court also decided to significantly lower the rate applied to calculate the overall fine, the source added.

“While the court correctly reversed part of the French Competition Authority’s decision, we believe it should be overturned in full and plan to appeal,” Apple said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“The decision relates to practices from more than a decade ago that even the (French authority) recognised are no longer in use,” the statement said.

Regulatory pressure

The move is another setback for antitrust authorities in Europe, who are seeking to rein in tech giants.

Apple itself is facing a number of antitrust issues in Europe.

In May the European Commission informed Apple of its preliminary finding that the iPhone giant unfairly restricted contactless NFC tech in iPhones to benefit of the Apple Pay payment system.

That EC probe could lead to heavy fines for the tech giant and force it to open up its mobile payment system to competitors, such as banks.

The European Commission had begun an in-depth probe into the company’s Apple Pay payment technology back in June 2020.

Then in May 2021, the European Commission decided to charge Apple with violating antitrust rules over its App Store rules for music streaming services.

European Commission officials then reportedly considered filing an additional EU antitrust charge against Apple over music streaming. The central thrust of Spotify’s complaint filed in March 2019 is that Apple unfairly limits rivals to its own Apple Music streaming service, and the large fee that Apple charges for all purchases via its app store.

In addition to the music streaming investigation, Apple is also being investigated over it’s practices in e-books.

Apple has also clashed repeatedly with the Dutch antitrust authority for failing to comply with an order to open its App Store to rival forms of payment for dating apps in the Netherlands.