France: Attac wins Apple court case against civil disobedience actions
In France, Global Alliance for Tax Justice’s partner Attac (Association for the taxation on finance transactions, for helping citizens) just won a lawsuit where Apple was trying to ban Attac’s civil disobedience actions from all its stores. The Parisian court dismissed Apple’s demands and condemned the company to reimburse the fees of Attac’s lawyer.
Apple's attempt to impose a three-year ban on Attac activists and to impose a fine of 150,000 euros on the civil society organisaion is France’s first #TaxJustice SLAPP Action (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), a lawsuit intended to censor critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense.
In this case, the judges rated the right to freedom of expression higher than the company's profit interests and stated that Attac was acting “in the general interest”. Contrary to Apple's claim, no damage was caused in the affected shops, the judges stated.
"The mere penetration of activists in the Apple Stores without violence, without degradation, and without blocking the access of the store to customers, is not enough to characterize imminent harm justifying limiting the right to freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration of activists of the Attac association, who acted in accordance with the statutes of the association, and as part of a campaign of general interest on the payment of taxes and tax evasion."
Attac France’s spokesperson Dominique Plihon recaps "our actions are aimed at having Apple, the largest multinational company in the world, pay its fair share of taxes in the countries where it actually operates and accepts the € 13 billion tax recovery claimed by the European Commission by withdrawing its action before the Court of Justice of the European Union." Aurélie Trouvé, another Attac spokeswoman for France, adds "With the # ApplePayeTesImpôts campaign (“#ApplePayYourTaxes”), we found the vast majority of the population was fed up with the tax impunity of the ultra rich and multinationals. At the February 12th rally in front of the Paris court, all the associative, union and political representatives welcomed the idea of an "alliance for tax justice". This judgment is therefore an encouragement to continue and amplify the mobilization so that multinationals finally pay their fair share of taxes."
The story received a broad media coverage (in French and here in English on the BBC), when #TaxJustice is only one component of a broader civil society campaign titled #iPhoneRevolt gathering Attac, the French chapter of Friends of the Earth, trade unions, Finance Watch and the association “Stop Planned Obsolescence” who intended a lawsuit against Apple in December, two weeks after Apple, the world’s first capitalization, had acknowledged having clamped its old iPhones.
This weekend, right after the Paris court issue was published, #iPhoneRevolt stickers appeared on huge iPhone ad placards which cover many Parisian monuments at work:
In its other #TaxJustice lawsuit in France, ATTAC is waiting for the postponed trial, adjourned to June 7th. Attac activists are calling for a gathering to support Nicole Briend, in Carpentras.
In the case of an appeal, you can follow the Apple dispute through #AppleContreAttac and the broader campaign through #iPhoneRevolt. You can contact GATJ’s Marie Antonelle Joubert for more information (in any language).