Apple's Anti-Competitive Practices Lead To $1.23 Billion Fine By France

Andrew Cummings
March 18, 2020

France fined the U.S. technology company Apple for "non-compete" agreements with vendors blocking independent vendors in the country.

The Autorité de la Concurrence also issued punishing sanctions to wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro, which were fined €76.1m and €62.9m respectively. It all began with a dispute between Apple and one of France's top resellers, a company called eBizcuss, which was at one time involved in the Apple Premium Reseller Program, where participants sell only Apple products. Apple also was fined for preventing its resellers from lowering prices, prohibiting discounts, and keeping prices the same across the entire market.

French authorities have concluded that the tech giant is guilty of a number of anti-competitive practices.

The combined penalty for Apple and the two wholesalers is also a record.

Moreover, "the so-called +premium+ distributors could not safely engage in price promotions or price cuts, which led to an alignment of retail prices between Apple's integrated distributors and independent +premium+ distributors", she continued.

As the French competition regulator announced today, it is demanding Apple to pay a fine of around Euro 1.1 billion or 1.2 billion dollars.

Finally, Apple has abused the economic dependence of these Premium distributors by subjecting them to unfair and unfavourable commercial conditions.

The regulator alleged that Apple favoured certain wholesalers more than others, allocating them more stock when new products were launched, leaving others with insufficient stock to meet customer demand. This amounted to an abuse of economic dependence, said the watchdog, noting that this is a particularly serious practice. In short, this effectively offered Apple unreasonable control over the businesses of its distributors and resellers.

The authority found three areas of anti-competitive behaviour.

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