The Paris Court of Appeal reduced by two thirds, Thursday, October 6, a record fine of 1.1 billion euros imposed in March 2020 by the Competition Authority against Apple, accused of abuse against its retailers in France, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Of the three initial grievances, two were finally upheld by the court and certain charges were reduced, bringing the final penalty to 371.6 million euros, according to this source. The judgment of the court of appeal will be made public on Friday, the court said, but the parties have already raised the possibility of a new appeal.
Appeal in Cassation
In a statement to AFP, Apple “considers that this cancellation should have been total and plans to appeal in cassation”. “The decision concerns practices that date back more than ten years, which even the Competition Authority has recognized as no longer in force”added the American giant.
Contacted by AFP, the Competition Authority behind this sanction – the highest for the institution at the time – also declared that it “looked at the judgment and studied the possibility” an appeal to the highest court in the judiciary.
The French competition policeman considered at the time that Apple “had committed an abuse of economic dependence, with regard to its + premium + retailers”specializing in high-end products, excluding iPhone, “by subjecting them to unfair and unfavorable commercial conditions in relation to its network of integrated distributors”.
Specifically, Apple was accused of having set up, within its distribution network in France, a distribution of products and customers with two wholesalers from December 2005 to March 2013, and of having caused a “abuse of economic dependence” vis-à-vis its independent resellers, mainly SMEs, from November 2009 to April 2013.
The Court of Appeal, on the other hand, renounced to sanction the American giant on the “resale price maintenance” to these independent resellers, a practice of which the company was accused from October 2012 to April 2017.
The Authority had been seized in 2012 by the eBizcuss site, an independent reseller of high-end Apple products, which at the time was the first exclusive reseller of the American giant in France: it had filed a complaint for unfair competition, abuse of dominant position and abuse of economic dependence.