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Apple Inc. won a cut of 728 million euros ($715 million) on the record 1.1 billion euros it received in 2020 for anti-competitive agreements with two favored distributors.
An appeals court in Paris on Thursday reduced Apple’s total fine to about 371.6 million euros after judges decided to shorten the duration of one of the violations and reduce the increase in the fine that takes into account the company’s economic strength.
“The 90% multiple is unreasonable,” the court said in its decision. “The 50% multiple is sufficient to guarantee that the sanctions will be punitive and dissuasive.”
The French competition arm has been keeping a close eye on the Silicon Valley firm in recent years. Last year, Google was fined €500 million for failing to comply with an order to make fair deals with news publishers. The California tech giant then settled on the merits of that case to avoid further fines, but had previously received hefty penalties in separate cases. Meta similarly secured a deal earlier this year to avoid fines after making promises about the online advertising market.
More broadly, regulators across Europe are fighting to maintain Big Tech’s dominance through a combination of fines and regulatory measures. The firms have shown they are willing to appeal the decisions and have been conducting costly investigations for years.
Apple said it plans to file another appeal with France’s highest court to reduce the penalty to zero. “We believe it should be repealed in its entirety,” the statement said.
France’s antitrust agency, the Autorite de la concurrence, said it was considering filing its own appeal.
“We would like to reaffirm our desire to ensure the deterrent nature of our sanctions, particularly as it relates to market players such as” Silicon Valley firms, said Virginia Guin, an official with the Authority.
At a hearing last year in the appeal case, Apple accused French regulators of bending antitrust rules “for political ends” when they handed down a record fine as part of a campaign to curb the tech giant’s dominance.
When it handed down the fine in 2020, the French agency said Apple colluded with two wholesalers – Tech Data and Ingram Micro – in a move that stifled wholesale competition for non-iPhone products such as Apple Mac computers. The duo were also fined €76.1 million and €63 million respectively.
Tech Data’s fine was reduced to approximately €25 million and Ingram Micro’s fine was reduced to €19.5 million. Representatives of both companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.