Apple must pay a fine of 1 million euros in France, but why?

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Five years after the filing of a complaint by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, Apple has just been fined 1 million euros. But why?

Apple must pay a fine of 1 million euros in France, but why?

The case dates back to 2017. At the time, Bruno Le Maire, already Minister of Economy and Finance, filed a complaint against Apple. He accuses the company of taking advantage of its dominant position in the mobile application market to impose tariffs on French developers and to allow itself to interrupt access to its service at any time and for no reason.

The plaintiff's arguments clearly convinced the Paris Commercial Court. He retained a ” significant imbalance “ as well as a ” significant legal and economic insecurity “ linked to the size and means of Apple. The court also found that Apple prevented the developers from renegotiating the terms of the contract with it.

It therefore forced Apple “ to comply with the requirements of the Minister of Economy and Finance and Recovery”.In addition, Apple is sentenced to pay a fine of just over one million euros.

The company has eight days to publicize this decision in three national dailies: Le Monde, Le Figaro and Les Echos. If she does not comply, she will have to pay a fine of 10,000 euros per day of delay.

Half-hearted victory for the government

If Bercy won its case, it is mainly thanks to the new rules introduced by the European regulation on digital markets (Digital Markets Act). “ If the effects of the disputed clauses (…) must effectively cease, the entry into force of the Legislation on Digital Markets (Digital Markets Act), voted definitively by Europe on October 4, 2022, now imposes , everywhere in Europe, to Apple a rebalancing of the clauses in favor of the developers  can we read in the judgment.

Despite this condemnation, the Minister of Economy and Finance did not obtain satisfaction on all the grievances. Of the 11 accusations against Apple, the court dismissed five. For example, the court found that the 15% or 30% commission and the exclusivity of the payment system were “clearly not excessive and are very frequently found in commerce whether online or physical.”

Following the judgment, Apple said it believes “to dynamic and competitive markets where innovation can flourish”. And to add:

Thanks to the App Store, we have helped French developers of all sizes to share their passion and creativity with users around the world, while creating a a secure and trusted space for customers”.

The company will “review this decision carefully and continue (its) efforts to support developers and provide a safe experience to users”.

Complying with European rules

Whether it likes it or not, Apple will have to adjust its rules in Europe anyway. The Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act will indeed change the rules of digital technology and force the giants of the sector to adopt new behaviors.

For users, this will materialize in major software changes. For example, messaging services will all have to be interoperable. Understand that a message sent by iMessage must be able to arrive on WhatsApp.

Apple seems to be fully aware of these obligations. Its engineers have already started working on an opening of its ecosystem, which until then was locked. Thus, the future version of iOS must be available free of charge for all iPhone users from September 2023. The company must also offer alternative application stores to the App Store to comply with competition rules. Quite a job.

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