US tech giant Apple has recently been fined $1.2 billion by a French antitrust regulator over allegations of anticompetitive activities. The fine, which is the largest amount ever processed by antitrust authorities in France, follows nearly eight years of preparation by the regulators.
The ruling involves two other wholesalers in addition to Apple, namely Ingram Micro and Tech Data. Tech Data was fined $76 million, while Ingram Micro was fined $63 million. Sources with knowledge of the matter claim that these fines were levied due to anticompetitive activities undertaken by the companies.
The French regulator offered an explanation for the record-high fine, alleging that Apple and the two resellers mutually agreed not to compete amongst themselves, and ensured that the resellers offered prices that did not challenge the prices offered in Apple’s own stores, both physical and online. The authority accused Apple of abusively exploiting the dependence of distributors to push outcomes that were beneficial to itself but anticompetitive to the market space. Furthermore, the watchdog stated that Apple restricted supply of products to its resellers to ensure advantages to its own store.
The authority has imposed the highest ever penalty ever declared in a case, owing to strong adversities on competition in Apple product distribution through Apple premium resellers, brought on by these practices.
Apple has opposed this ruling, and is set to make an appeal, stating that the fine is in defiance of legal precedent in France. An Apple spokesperson expressed the company’s disappointment at the French Competition Authority’s ruling, reiterating the company’s 40-year business history in France as well as its many contributions to job creation, innovation and economic advancement in the region.
The spokesperson further expressed their dissent of the ruling and plans to appeal the decision, which they believe will prove chaotic to companies across the industrial spectrum.
Apple’s business practices have also faced scrutiny in the past, from numerous other antitrust authorities across the globe. For instance, the European Commission initiated a formal inquiry into alleged anticompetitive behavior by Apple, following complaints registered by Spotify.