France’s antitrust watchdog is not an Apple fan. Today, it fined the Cupertino giant 1.1 billion euros (£1 billion), along with two wholesale partners, for violations regarding its efforts to restrict the wholesale market and abusing the economic dependence of resellers.
In a statement announcing the fine, the Autorité de la Concurrence said that Apple and its wholesale partners, Ingram Micro and Tech Data, agreed they wouldn’t compete with each other. It also prevented premium resellers from lowering prices. In other words, Apple’s being fined for running a price-fixing scheme. For their roles, Ingram Micro and Tech Data were fined 76 million euros and 63 million euros, respectively.
According to the watchdog, Apple also put in place a price monitoring system. If a reseller ran an unauthorized promotion, it posed a risk that Apple could then retaliate by favouring competitors. On top of that, the watchdog alleges that Apple treated resellers of its products unfairly, to the point where it limited their stock of products compared to Apple Stores. The products in question encompass all Apple products, with the exception of iPhones as they are frequently sold separately by carriers.
The fine – which the Autorité de la Concurrence says is the highest penalty it’s ever imposed – is the result of a years-long investigation that can be traced back to France’s biggest reseller eBizcuss shuttering shortly after filing a complaint against Apple in 2012. This also follows a record $27 million fine imposed by the DGCCRF, France’s consumer watchdog group, over Apple throttling older iPhones.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment but did not receive an immediate response. However, in statements provided to other outlets, Apple has indicated the decision was “disheartening” and that it fully plans to appeal.
Featured image: Stephanie Keith (Getty Images)