French Court of Appeal reduces Apple’s €1.1 billion fine • The Register

The record-breaking €1.1 billion fine imposed on Apple by French authorities has been reduced by two-thirds to just €372 million ($363 million) — an even paltry sum for the world’s first company to exceeds a market valuation of $3 trillion.

The three-point bill was presented to the iPhone giant in 2020 by France’s antitrust authority, the Autorité de la Concurrence. An appeals court reportedly overturned the pricing fee in this lawsuit yesterday, shortened the duration of the remaining fees, and lowered the rate of the fine.

The case dates back to 2012. Apple has been accused of conspiring with Tech Data and Ingram Micro to fix the prices of some Apple devices (that’s the fee that was dropped), as well as abusing its power over resellers by limiting product shipments, thereby urging fans to Apple retail stores.

Tech Data and Ingram Micro were also fined, the totals of which have also since been reduced.

Both sides plan to appeal the decision, with Apple and the Autorité telling Bloomberg they are unhappy with the outcome. In Apple’s case, Apple plans to appeal to France’s highest court to have the fine overturned entirely, a spokesman said.

The Autorité, on the other hand, is not happy that the fine has been reduced. “We would like to reiterate our desire to guarantee the dissuasive nature of our penalties,” said a spokesman for the Autorité, adding that this desire applies particularly to market participants at the Apple level.

Apple and France: Well known friends

Silicon Valley’s tech giants are no stranger to courtroom drama, but Apple and France have a relationship on a whole different level: the euro-nation has hit the iMaker with multiple lawsuits and protests over the years. And as Twitter’s security whistleblower Mudge pointed out, the French scare US companies more than Washington regulators.

Make no mistake: France still loves their iPhones, they just want Cook and co to do better.

Along with the 2020 settlement, whose proceedings began in 2012, French authorities have fined Apple €48.5 million for antitrust violations and €25 million for throttling older iPhones; the iGiant was forced to publish repairability scores on its French websites; and in August, the Gallic Empire sued Apple for antitrust and competition violations over app store practices.

In addition to formal action, the French also took to the streets and Apple stores in 2018 to demand the iPod inventor pay his fair share of taxes in France, part of a pressure campaign that prompted the company to pay back €500 million in tax debts to France. Separately, Apple has been accused of topping the EU with its €13 billion in taxes in 2017.

Like many fines imposed on large companies, these penalties may seem high to the average person, but for a company the size of Apple, it’s a pittance. According to Tipalti, Apple earns $105,116 per minute from profit alone.

At that rate, Apple could repay France’s new lower fine with less than three days of profit, while the full €1.1 billion would take about a week. ® French Court of Appeal reduces Apple’s €1.1 billion fine • The Register

Rick Schindler

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