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Apple sues group that occupied Paris store to protest company's unpaid taxes

Apple has leveled a lawsuit against Attac —the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizen's Action —which ran protests at a number of French Apple stores on Dec. 2, including a brief occupation of the company's flagship Opera store in Paris.




Apple respects freedom of expression, but the protests "put the security of our customers and employees at risk," a spokesman claimed in speaking to Agence France-Press. The company is pursuing an injunction and 3,000 euros (about $3,600) in damages, with a penalty of 150,000 euros ($181,000) if Attac organizes another protest.

Apple says that it met with members of Attac on Dec. 18, and asked them to stop because of the alleged security concerns. Prior to the Dec. 2 actions it had staged protests during the November launch of the iPhone X, dumping a load of fresh apples at Aix-en-Provence, and appearing at the Opera store with a mock birthday cake wishing a "happy birthday to the iPhone" but "a bad birthday to tax evasion."

An Attac spokesman called the lawsuit "an attempt to gag Attac and prevent us from holding new citizen actions to condemn tax evasion by multinationals." Apple has accused the group of vandalism, the spokesman added, even though its tactics are "symbolic, nonviolent, staged openly and with no material damage." This may be backed up by photos and video from the December Paris protest, which showed only temporary posters and banners.

In Aug. 2016 the European Commission ordered Ireland to collect some $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple, ruling that it had offered preferential tax arrangements constituting illegal state aid, even modifying them on the fly when it would help. The Irish government missed a Jan. 2017 deadline, and indeed failed to collect any money last year. While the country is finally preparing an escrow account, the Commission is pursuing a court case which could impose additional penalties.