Department of Justice Could Slap Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple - Report

The US Department of Justice is drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple Inc, and a suit could be filed against the world's most valuable company. If the move goes ahead it will the DOJ's first antitrust suit lawsuit a major tech behemoth under the Biden administration.

Early Stages

Politico reported that the DoJ is in the early stages of drafting the complaint. There is no clarity over whether or when the department of justice will file the lawsuit against the iPhone maker. People associated with the probe told the outlet that there is also chance that no lawsuit is filed against Apple.

Apple YouTube Grab

In a follow-up report, Reuters said neither Apple nor the DOJ immediately responded to requests for comment.

The core of the probe is a complaint in 2019 that Apple abused its market position to smother smaller tech companies, such as hardware makers and even app developers.

Big Tech Under Scanner

Apart from Apple, other tech majors such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have also been on the radar of DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission over the last few years.

In 2020, a US House of Representatives panel recommended that imperial tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google could be broken up in the face of complaints that they stymie competition.

According to Reuters, the panel's draft report contained a thinly veiled remark about the Big Tech break-up. The draft report mentions Big Tech's practices like 'killer acquisitions', elimination of rivals and self-preferencing.

Tech Antitrust Hearing
All the four CEOs testified via video conferencing YouTube Grab

The report also contains a proposal under which the tech companies will have to mark a 'single line of business'. "This proposal is a thinly veiled call to break up Big Tech firms. We do not agree with the majority's approach," Republican Congressman Ken Buck said.

In November 2021, the US Federal Trade Commission said a federal court should allow an antitrust lawsuit it filed against Facebook to go forward as the company has "interfered with the competitive process by targeting nascent threats through exclusionary conduct."

Earlier the FTC had refreshed its antitrust case against Facebook, now Meta Platforms, adding detail on the accusation the social media company crushed or bought rivals and asking a judge to force it to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

Also in 2021, U.S. Justice Department investigators said Google's plan to block a popular web tracking tool called "cookies" was a source of concern. The department was probing whether the move by the search giant will hobble its smaller rivals.

apple app store
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the number of Apps downloaded during an Apple event in San Francisco, California in this file photo from 7 March 2012 Robert Galbraith/File Photo/Reuters

In 2020, as many as 40 states in the United States said they will sue Facebook Inc for possible antitrust violations.

In the case of Apple, conflicts over anti-trust breaches revolve around the App Store, AirTags and Apple's payment system. DoJ is also investigating whether Apple's control over its physical devices harms competitors beyond app developers, says the Politico report.