Silicon Valley firms have been facing intense French scrutiny in recent years.

(Bloomberg)—Apple Inc. (No. 3 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) accused French antitrust regulators of blundering when they slapped the company with a record 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) fine for allegedly squeezing out resellers of iPads and Mac computers.

Melanie Thill-Tayara, a lawyer for Apple, told judges at the Paris court of appeals that watchdogs relied on a false “theory” that the U.S. tech giant entered into anti-competitive agreements with two wholesalers, hurting premium resellers of non-iPhone products and unfairly favoring its own stores and website.

“None of the measures set up by Apple sought to disadvantage” premium resellers, Thill-Tayara said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that the fining decision should be “purely and simply” reversed.

Silicon Valley firms have been facing intense French scrutiny in recent years. Google has been fined several times, including a 500 million-euro penalty in 2021 in a case over its use of publishers’ news content. Facebook Inc. made commitments to placate regulators in a bid to avoid a fine for its advertising-market practices.

In Thursday’s case, wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro were fined 76.1 million euros and 63 million euros by the Autorite de la Concurrence last year for allegedly conspiring with Apple. They are also trying to overturn their penalty.

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In their 2020 decision, antitrust officials said Apple’s actions froze market shares and prevented competition between different distribution channels for the brand. Apple allegedly took measures to force premium resellers to provide the same prices as it did in Apple Stores and on its website.

The Apple case was prompted by a complaint lodged by eBizcuss, an Apple premium reseller, in 2012. A ruling is expected in several months.

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