Apple wins appeal to slash its $1.2 billion French antitrust fine by two-thirds

Both Apple and French regulators may appeal the decision.

Gonzalo Fuentes / reuters

In 2020, Apple was hit with a record €1.1 billion fine ($1.2 billion at the time) in France over antitrust practices with two wholesalers. Now, the Paris court of appeals has reduced the penalty by two thirds to just €371.6 million ($364.6 million today), Reuters has reported. The court ruled that the original fine was "disproportionate," and reduced it to an amount "sufficient to guarantee that the penalties are repressive and dissuasive."

According to the original complaint, Apple and its distribution partners Ingram Micro and Tech Data agreed not to compete with one another, "thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products." This forced other premium distributors to keep prices high to match those of integrated distributors. Apple immediately announced plans to appeal the decision, calling it "disheartening" and saying it discarded 30 years of legal precedent in France.

Apple still isn't satisfied, telling Bloomberg it plans to file another appeal at France's top court to eliminate the fine altogether. France's antitrust agency (l'Autorité de la concurrence) is also considering an appeal. "We would like to reaffirm our desire to guarantee the dissuasive nature of our penalties, especially when it concerns market players of the caliber of [big tech companies]," said l'Autorité communications director Virginie Guin.

The reduction is part of an ongoing battle between France and the EU and Silicon Valley tech firms. Last year, Google was fined €500 million over its news dominance in France, and recently lost an appeal in a €4.34 billion EU antitrust case over its Android system dominance, though the fine was reduced to €4.12 billion ($4.04 billion).