France’s competition authority, the Autorité de la Concurrence, has fined Apple €1.1 billion (around $1.2 billion) for illegally restricting how wholesalers sell Apple products. As well as fining Apple itself, the authority has also fined two of its wholesalers, Tech Data, and Ingram Micro, Reuters reports. The Autorité de la Concurrence launched its probe in 2012, when the premium reseller eBizcuss.com launched a complaint shortly before going out of business, Politico reported last week. The authority said the fine is the highest it’s ever given.
French authorities say that Apple is guilty of a series of anti-competitive practices. First, Apple and two of its wholesalers agreed to not compete with each other. Second, it stopped its premium resellers from being able to lower their prices, meaning that pricing was identical across almost half of the Apple retail market. Finally, Apple is accused of unfairly treating its premium resellers, in some cases limiting their supply compared to its own stores. These practices are said to have applied to products like the iPad, while the iPhone was unaffected.
In a statement, Apple called the French authority’s decision “disheartening,” and added that “it relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries.” Apple said it plans to appeal the ruling.
Apple has also faced complaints over its control of the market for its products elsewhere in the world. In the US, for example, a deal between Apple and Amazon made it difficult for small sellers to resell Apple hardware through the marketplace platform. The FTC announced it was investigating the deal in August last year.