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DOJ may launch an Apple antitrust lawsuit in March

Apple logo on its store building

The US Department of Justice is preparing to file an antitrust case against Apple, with a potential launch as early as March.

According to reports from Bloomberg, the official filing is pending approval from senior officials in the DOJ's antitrust division.

The case would center around restrictions on iPhones and iPads, both in terms of software and hardware, which are alleged to hinder competition. 

Meetings between DOJ and Apple attorneys have taken place in expectation of the suit, specifically focusing on impediments to competitive services.

Tech companies facing lawsuits

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter oversees the DOJ Antitrust division, and Chair Lina Khan leads the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have taken action against big tech companies

The FTC, for instance, pursued cases against Amazon and Meta, while both enforcers targeted Google parent Alphabet.

Sources said that DOJ attorneys aim to file the antitrust suit within the first quarter, concluding an investigation that commenced in 2019. 

Apple has faced prior legal scrutiny for alleged anticompetitive practices.

It includes a complaint from Spotify to the European Union in 2019, accusing Apple's in-app payments system of violating antitrust law.

Apple has also been embroiled in civil litigation with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, centered on whether Apple's App Store rules breached federal antitrust statutes. 

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to decline appeals from both companies marked a mixed victory for Apple and Epic. 

In 2021, a federal judge ruled that Apple violated a California law but did not infringe upon federal antitrust statutes. 

The Justice Department and the company have did not comment on the potential antitrust case.

While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld this decision, the Supreme Court's refusal to hear appeals prompted Apple to modify its rules, allowing app makers to link customers to non-Apple billing solutions. 

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