FTC Examining Past Acquisitions by Apple and Other Tech Companies in Ongoing Antitrust Investigation

apple logo gray transparentThe Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has issued Special Orders to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Google parent company Alphabet requiring them to report all prior acquisitions not previously reported.

In the United States, companies are required to report acquisitions over a certain value to the FTC under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, while acquisitions under the value threshold do not need to be reported. The FTC is asking for details on all smaller acquisitions that it did not previously know about. The HSR threshold in 2020 is $94 million, but it is a number that is adjusted by the FTC each year and would have been lower in past years.

The FTC says that it wants the companies to provide information and documents on the "terms, scope, structure, and purpose of transactions" that took place from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2019 and were not reported under the HSR Act. The FTC wants to learn whether large tech companies are making anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors in deals small enough to go unreported to antitrust agencies.

"Digital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. "This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers."

Apple and other tech companies will also need to provide the FTC with documents on corporate acquisition strategies, voting and board appointment agreements, agreements to hire key personnel from other companies, and post-employment non-compete agreements. Each company will be asked to offer information on post-acquisition product development and pricing, including whether and how acquired assets were integrated and how acquired data has been treated.

Tech companies like Apple often make many acquisitions per year, and Apple in particular buys a lot of smaller companies. Apple does not provide details on purchase prices, though, so it is unclear how many acquisitions have previously not been reported to the FTC.

In the last few months, Apple has purchased Xnor.ai, Spectral Edge, and IKinema.

Tags: FTC, antitrust

Top Rated Comments

lkrupp Avatar
15 months ago

WOW !

One BIG step closer to AAPL losing control of the App Store !
Apple should shut down the App Store and let developers fend for themselves, like it was years ago. Develop your app and then try to get noticed in all the background noise. Word of mouth, advertising on websites, etc. Screw these whining crybabies who think they should be able to put whatever they want in Apple's store and not pay anything for the privilege of doing so.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StevieD100 Avatar
15 months ago

Of course they are. They've been doing it since forever
And a good number of them were startups where the owners wanted to sell to a big corp and they walk away with their pension sorted.
That's commerce. If the FTC thinks that this practice is wrong then get the laws changed to stop ALL takeovers. That won't fly in DC now will it?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
15 months ago
This is a whole bunch of nothing. No sweeping laws or regulations will come of it. Total waste of time.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonblatho Avatar
15 months ago

And if Apple is found of wrongdoing they will be fined.
…and they’ll make the fine back in profit in a matter of hours at most.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cosmosent Avatar
15 months ago
WOW !

One BIG step closer to AAPL losing control of the App Store !
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MauiPa Avatar
15 months ago

WOW !

One BIG step closer to AAPL losing control of the App Store !
hahaha, so funny, NO
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
iMessage Android featured

Apple's Rationale for Not Bringing iMessage to Android Revealed in Legal Documents

Friday April 9, 2021 2:22 am PDT by
It's no secret that Apple sees iMessage as a big enough selling point to keep the service exclusive to Apple devices, however new court filings submitted by Epic Games in its ongoing lawsuit with the company reveal just how Apple executives have rationalized their decision not to develop a version of iMessage for Android. Apple clearly recognizes the power that iMessage has to keep users...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
iPhone 13 Battery Life Feature

DigiTimes: iPhone 13 Pro Models to Feature 120Hz ProMotion Refresh Rate and 15-20% Less Power Consumption

Friday April 9, 2021 12:52 am PDT by
The two premium "Pro" models of the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will be equipped with a low-power LTPO display, enabling the iPhones to have a 120Hz refresh rate, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. According to today's paywalled report, Apple suppliers Samsung and LG Display are in the process of converting parts of their production capacity to produce LTPO ...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
fortnite apple featured

Epic's Case Against Apple in Australia Might Be Over

Friday April 9, 2021 12:21 pm PDT by
Epic Games and Apple are involved in a highly public lawsuit in the United States, but Epic has also sued Apple in other countries, including Australia, in an attempt to boost its chances of getting a favorable ruling. Things aren't quite going Epic's way, however, as the justice overseeing the case today decided that he's going to let the two companies battle it out in the United States. ...
Apple TV Ray Light Teal Film

Apple Wants to Draw Subscribers to Apple TV+ With More Feature Films

Friday April 9, 2021 10:27 am PDT by
Apple is ramping up its efforts to produce feature films, according to a new report from The Information. Apple has a limited number of high profile films already, including "Palmer," "Cherry," and "Greyhound," and sees it as a way to draw more people into Apple TV+. Apple has been telling studio executives that it is aiming to do more than 10 to 12 original movies per year for Apple TV+,...