Tag - Antitrust
An attempt to challenge a settlement by Apple to end the e-book price fixing antitrust lawsuit against it has been denied by a federal appeals court. A complaint by customer John Bradley over the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the class-action suit's settlement was denied by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, preserving the original settlement amount Apple has to pay, barring re-trial reductions, at $450 million.
Following a meeting by Apple CEO Tim Cook with the head of the antitrust investigation against Ireland on behalf of the European Commission, Apple's CFO has told London's Financial Times that should Ireland be found guilty of giving companies like Apple "special state aid," Apple should owe nothing in back taxes. The crux of remarks by Luca Maestri is that Apple did not receive any special deal from Ireland, but if Ireland illegally lowered its tax rate to benefit corporations, it is the state -- and not the companies that benefitted from the lower rate -- that should pay any penalties.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent the past couple of days in Europe, where he met with the head of the European Commission's antitrust division as well as Pope Francis at the Vatican in a brief private meeting. On Thursday, Cook met with Margrethe Vestager, the antitrust chief, presumably to reiterate the company's innocence in the Irish tax scandal that could conceivably result in Apple owing billions in back taxes, despite the fact that Ireland's politicians appear to be the guilty party. Cook also met with some Italian developers as Apple opened a new development center in the country.
After being largely ignored -- even after presenting evidence -- at the first bench trial and in the appeal of Apple's e-book antitrust conviction, four large industry groups representing the content creators and sellers of e-books have filed amicus curae ("friend of the court") briefs in support of Apple, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the rulings. The filings say that Amazon used loss-leader pricing to eliminate competition and abuse its monopoly, ultimately doing more harm to consumers than Apple has ever been accused of.
The German Federal Cartel Office, which handles antitrust investigations, is looking into the agreement between Amazon and Apple by which the latter purchases audiobooks from Amazon-owned Audible for sale in iTunes. While there is no suggestion yet that either company is doing anything wrong, the office appears to be concerned that the arrangement has resulted in such a strong market position as to potentially be anti-competitive, and thus in need of a closer look.
Michael Bromwich, the combative antitrust monitor appointed seemingly due solely to his close relationship with original trial judge Denise Cote, has claimed that Apple "is its own worst enemy" in terms of cooperation with the court-appointed monitor, but admitted that Apple's antitrust program is "substantially stronger" in what might be his final report for the court, unless Judge Cote extends his appointment. Bromwich, who was restrained from previous excesses by an Appeals Court that barely upheld Cote's original decision, has had a difficult relationship with the iPhone maker from the start.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is allegedly looking into how Apple treats competitors of its Apple Music service in the App Store. Industry sources of Reuters claim the regulator is making queries about how other music streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, are represented in the App Store and if Apple is breaking antitrust law, as well as other restrictions on how app creators must behave in order to remain listed in the marketplace.
The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals handed Apple a minor defeat on Thursday in its fight to both get rid of the antitrust "watchdog" a biased lower court had appointed for it, as well as overturn the earlier court ruling entirely. In a decision on the fate of Michael Bromwich, a personal friend of the original trial judge Denise Cote who Apple has argued is not qualified in antitrust and who has attempted to conduct investigations outside his remit, the court decided that while there was evidence of abuse, Bromwich can stay in place until the court decides on Apple's overall appeal.
The European Union's first antitrust case against Google -- where the advertising giant is accused of giving more prominence in search results to its own shopping comparison services than competitors -- will include 19 companies as complainants, giving them the ability to see and comment on the full list of charges leveled against Google. However, a number of the companies are not directly involved in online shopping, suggesting that the charges brought against Google could be more wide-ranging than previously suspected.
Google's relationship with the European Commission (EC) has worsened, after the regulator made two antitrust-related announcements. It has formally objected to the way Google gives more prominence in search results to its own shopping comparison services than competitors, and has also opened up a separate formal investigation over Android and its bundling of Google apps.