antitrust


'antitrust' Articles

U.S. House Committee Asks Apple to Send Info About App Store Policies and More as Part of Antitrust Investigation

As part of a bipartisan investigation of competition in digital markets, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting that the company provide any documents and executive communications related to its various policies for the App Store, product repairs, and more. The investigation seeks any internal documents or communication involving Apple executives, such as emails, for the following topics:Apple's decision to remove from the ‌App Store‌ or to impose any restrictions on certain parental control apps, including Freedom, Kidslox, Mobicip, OurPact, and Qustodio Apple's ‌App Store‌ algorithm for determining rankings in search results Apple's policy related to the ‌App Store‌'s in-app purchase mechanism and its revenue split Apple's policy regarding whether apps are permitted to include in-app links to non-Apple payment systems Apple's policy regarding whether users can set non-Apple apps as default, such as web browsers and music, maps, and email apps Apple's policy regarding whether to allow any third-party app store beyond the ‌App Store‌ on the iPhone Apple's decision to "sherlock" any functionality from third-party apps, including any discussions about Clue, Duet Display, and SwiftKey Apple's policy regarding whether third-party web browsers must use a specific rendering engine, such as WebKit Apple's restrictions on third-party repairs Apple's decision to offer discounted iPhone battery replacements throughout 2018, or the actual or projected effects of this decision, including any effect on iPhone sales Apple's

Dutch Antitrust Watchdog to Investigate Whether Apple Gives Itself Preferential Treatment in App Store [Updated]

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM for short, today announced that it will investigate whether Apple abuses its position in the App Store by, for example, giving preferential treatment to its own apps. ACM says the investigation will initially focus on Apple because the majority of anticompetitive allegations it has received from other companies and developers have been about the ‌App Store‌. More specifically, the investigation will revolve around Dutch apps for "news media" available in the ‌App Store‌. ACM board member Henk Don:To a large degree, app providers depend on Apple and Google for offering apps to users. In the market study, ACM has received indications from app providers, which seem to indicate that Apple abuses its position in the ‌App Store‌. That is why ACM sees sufficient reason for launching a follow-up investigation, on the basis of competition law.However, the antitrust watchdog stresses that Apple is innocent unless proven guilty, and also encourages developers to come forward if they experience similar problems with Google's Play Store. ACM launched the investigation upon completion of its market study that explores the influence of app stores. For numerous apps, the watchdog found that no realistic alternatives to the ‌App Store‌ and Play Store exist, potentially giving Apple and Google the opportunity to set unfair conditions.On the one hand, Apple and Google have an interest in offering many different apps from app providers in their app stores. On the other hand, however, Apple and Google are app providers in

Kaspersky Lab Files Antitrust Complaint Against Apple Over App Store Policy

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service relating to the company's App Store distribution policy. The action comes less than a week after Spotify filed its own complaint against Apple with EU antitrust regulators over the tech giant's "unfair" ‌App Store‌ practices. Kaspersky's complaint is specifically to do with Apple's removal of the Kaspersky Safe Kids app. In a blog post on the Kaspersky website, the firm says it received notice from Apple last year that the app, which had been in the ‌App Store‌ for three years, did not meet ‌App Store‌ guidelines owing to the use of configuration profiles. Kaspersky was told by Apple that it would need to remove these profiles for the app to pass review and remain in the ‌App Store‌, but the Russian firm had argued this action essentially crippled the app. "For us, that would mean removing two key features from Kaspersky Safe Kids: app control and Safari browser blocking." The first allows parents to specify which apps kids can't run based on the ‌App Store‌'s age restrictions, while the second allows the hiding of all browsers on the device so that web pages can only be accessed in the Kaspersky Safe Kids app's built-in secure browser. Kaspersky argues that the change in Apple's policy regarding parental control apps coincided with the release of iOS 12 and Apple's own Screen Time feature, which lets users monitor the amount of time they spend using certain apps and websites, and set time restrictions. Kaspersky calls it

Qualcomm Facing Off With FTC in Antitrust Trial That Kicks Off Today

With the intense ongoing legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple, it's easy to forget that Qualcomm is also facing an FTC antitrust lawsuit for using anticompetitive tactics to remain the main supplier for baseband processors for smartphones. The FTC hasn't forgotten, though, and FTC lawyers are in a Northern California courtroom before well-known judge Lucy Koh, who also presided over the Apple-Samsung legal fight. Lawyers for Qualcomm, the FTC, Apple, and other manufacturers have gathered as the trial commences, with the FTC set to argue that Qualcomm refused to provide chips to OEMs without a patent license, refused to license its technology to rivals, and set exclusive deals with Apple. Manufacturers like Huawei and Lenovo will testify that Qualcomm threatened to disrupt their chip supply during licensing negotiations, forcing them into signing deals. The FTC first filed a complaint against Qualcomm in January 2017, which was actually the catalyst for Apple's own lawsuit against the company just a few weeks later. In that complaint, the FTC said that Qualcomm uses its position and its portfolio of patents to impose anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers, impacting its competitors. Part of the complaint addressed a deal with Apple in which Qualcomm required Apple to exclusively use its modems from 2011 to 2016 in exchange for lower patent royalties. Qualcomm is also accused of refusing to license its standard-essential (FRAND) patents to competing suppliers and implementing a no license, no chips policy to drive up

Amazon Sending New Round of Credits to E-Book Buyers as Part of Apple Price Fixing Settlement

Customers who purchased a Kindle e-book between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 may be receiving a credit from Amazon this morning as the retailer continues distributing funds from an antitrust lawsuit levied against Apple back in 2013 by the United States Justice Department. Emails were sent out to eligible customers in the United States this morning, and Amazon has also set up a website that will list available credits for those who are eligible for a refund. Apple, along with five other publishers including HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin, was found guilty of conspiring to inflate the prices of e-books to weaken Amazon's dominant position in the market. While the five publishers settled, Apple held out and appealed several times, but was ultimately ordered to pay a total of $450 million. Apple maintained its innocence throughout the initial trial and appeals, and has argued that its deals with publishers introduced competition to a market that was largely controlled by Amazon. The United States Justice Department did not see it that way, though, as Apple's efforts ultimately raised prices for consumers. Several rounds of refunds have already been distributed as a result of the lawsuit. In 2014, customers received refunds funded by publishers, and in 2016, refunds totaling $400 million, or the bulk of the money paid by Apple, were sent out. This new round of refunds has also been funded by Apple's settlement and comes from $20 million that was earmarked to pay states that were involved in the lawsuit.

Apple and Amazon End Audiobook Exclusivity Deal Amid Growing Concerns of a Monopoly

Apple and Amazon have agreed to cease all exclusivity obligations previously put in place between the two companies regarding the supply and distribution of audiobooks through iTunes and Audible (via Reuters). The partnership between the two companies previously incited a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association in 2015 centering around the potential for a monopoly in the European audiobook industry by the two powerhouse companies. Now, competition is expected to be boosted and the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office are welcoming the decision made by Apple and Amazon to end their exclusive distribution deal of Audible audiobooks on iTunes, meaning other companies can now distribute audiobooks on Apple's popular digital marketplace. Simultaneously, Audible can now place its audiobooks on other digital marketplaces for users to download. On Thursday, the German Federal Cartel Office said it has officially closed its investigation because "there was no further reason to continue." "The European Commission welcomes an agreement to end all exclusivity obligations concerning audiobook supply and distribution between Amazon's subsidiary Audible and Apple," the EU competition authority said in a statement. "With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers," Andreas Mundt, president of the German cartel office, said in a statement. Back in 2015, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association began its complaint by saying that Apple and

Apple to Pay $450 Million E-Book Settlement After Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal

Apple will have to pay a $450 million settlement in the protracted e-books antitrust case, which saw the company found guilty of conspiring with publishers to inflate the prices of e-books back in 2014 (via Bloomberg). In October, Apple submitted an appeal to overturn the guilty ruling, but today the United States Supreme Court declined to question the verdict, meaning Apple must now comply with that 2014 settlement. Specifically, the amount will be broken down to have $400 million paid out to e-book customers, $20 million to the states, and $30 million in the form of legal fees. The case saw Apple fighting an accusation that in 2010 it colluded with five publishers -- HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin -- to fix the prices of e-books in order to become a dominant presence in a market overshadowed by companies like Amazon. Apple has maintained its innocence throughout the initial trial and subsequent appeals, arguing that its deals helped introduce a healthy degree of competition to a market that had been bordering on a monopoly controlled by Amazon. A group of authors submitted an amicus brief supporting such a statement back in December. At the Supreme Court, Apple argued that its actions enhanced competition by providing consumers with a new e-book platform. The company said overall e-book prices have fallen in the years since the introduction of iBookstore. “Following Apple’s entry, output increased, overall prices decreased, and a major new retailer began to compete in a market formerly dominated by a single

Authors Believe Apple's Entry Into E-Book Market Wasn't Anti-Competitive

A coalition of authors and well-known booksellers have come forth to back Apple in a petition to overturn a recent ruling that stated the company was liable in conspiring to fix the prices of electronic books when its iBooks store launched on the iPad in 2010 (via Cult of Mac). Together, the Authors Guild, Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble have filed a 37-page amicus brief that states Apple was in fact enhancing competition and benefiting its customers. “We are pleased to lend our support in this matter, critical to anyone interested in a competitive and diverse literary marketplace,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, in a statement. “We fundamentally question the wisdom of the Second Circuit’s use of antitrust law to punish a business arrangement that demonstrably increased competition in the e-book marketplace.” The brief falls in line with Apple's petition of the Supreme Court to review the case this past October, after first being found guilty of conspiring to artificially inflate the prices of e-books back in 2013, when the case started. The amicus brief filed by the authors and booksellers backs up Apple's attempts at overturning the ruling, stating that a positive outcome for the case is "critical to maintaining a healthy marketplace for the ideas and First Amendment-protected expression that authors and bookstores facilitate." The groups even mention Amazon as more of a "disruptive" force in the e-books market, with a "loss leader" strategy that led to domination over the digital

Apple Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Guilty Verdict in E-Books Antitrust Case

Apple is asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn the 2013 U.S. Appellate Court ruling that found the company guilty of conspiring with publishers to inflate the prices of e-books, reports Reuters. Apple's petition comes following the loss of a June appeal where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the guilty verdict and maintained Apple violated antitrust laws and colluded with five publishers - HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin - to fix e-book prices and unreasonably restrain trade.Apple in its petition said the June decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York contradicted Supreme Court precedent and would "chill innovation and risktaking." "The Second Circuit's decision will harm competition and the national economy," Apple wrote.Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold the lower court's verdict, Apple will be forced to pay $450 million as part of a settlement with class action lawyers and state district attorneys, with $400 million of that amount earmarked for consumers. Apple reached the settlement in June of 2014 to avoid a lengthy damages trial, but the payout hinged on the outcome of the company's appeal. Though Apple was found guilty, the company has maintained its innocence throughout the dispute. In its appeal, Apple said its efforts "kick-started competition" to deliver "higher output, lower price levels, and accelerated

Apple's Bid to Disqualify Antitrust Compliance Monitor Rejected

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York today rejected Apple's bid to disqualify antitrust compliance monitor Michael Bromwich, who was appointed to watch the company since it was found liable of conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices a few years ago, reports Reuters."The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge did not abuse her discretion in rejecting Apple's bid to disqualify Michael Bromwich as monitor, even though some of the company's allegations against him 'give pause.'"In July 2013, Apple lost a significant e-book antitrust case that found the company to have colluded with publishers to raise the price of e-books. As a result, Apple was forced to submit to an external antitrust compliance monitor and $450 million fine as part of a settlement with several class action lawyers and state district attorneys. Last December, the lawsuit entered appeals court as Apple's attempt to overturn the