A French court has rejected Apple's demand to prevent tax campaign group Attac from protesting in front of its stores.

The iPhone manufacturer had complained after Attac staged a sit-in protest at an Apple store in Paris on 2 December to protest against what it described as "massive tax evasion" by the California-based company.

The US tech giant argued the protest, which prevented access to the store for several hours, had put customer and employee safety at risk and sought a court order to prevent demonstrations from happening in the future.

Apple also argued there was a risk of "imminent damage" from further protests.

However, a Paris court rejected the claim, indicating fears of damage were unsubstantiated as long as the protests were peaceful and did not block access to the store. The court also noted Apple had not reported damage from the protest.

Attac, which had carried out similar protests at stores in Paris and Aix-en-Provence in November, hailed the ruling and described the lawsuit as an attack on its right to protest.

"The court has recognised the legitimacy of our actions and went as far as to say we behaved in the general interest," group's spokesman Raphael Pradeau was quoted as saying by The Local.

The group added it has no intention to stop protesting against Apple and further demonstrations could be carried out in the future.

In April last year, European Union's competition authorities ordered Apple to pay £11.4bn in taxes back to the Irish government, following allegations that Apple sheltered billions of euros in the Republic of Ireland while paying little to no tax as part of a "sweetheart deal" with Dublin.

However, both Ireland and Apple appealed the decision, with the former accusing Brussels of interfering with national sovereignty.

The tax bill, by far the highest handed over to any company in Europe, was misjudged according to Ireland as the European Commission misunderstood both Irish law and the facts of the case. The government argued that the commission had not only exceeded its powers but made attempts to rewrite Irish corporation tax rules.