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Apple Fights EU’s $2 Billion Antitrust Ruling

Apple has appealed a nearly $2 billion antitrust fine handed down by European regulators.

As Reuters reported Tuesday (May 22), the appeal comes after the European Commission (EC) ruled this winter that Apple was abusing its power in the streaming music market. 

Apple’s fine was the first ever for violating European Union (EU) antitrust rules and one of the largest ever given to a company for anticompetitve practices. Apple had said at the time that it planned to appeal the fine.

The Reuters report notes that a ruling in the case could take several years.

The EC fined Apple 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) in March, saying it found that the company had prevented app developers from telling iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services — such as Apple’s competitor Spotify — something that is illegal under Europe’s antitrust rules.

“Apple’s conduct, which lasted for almost ten years, may have led many iOS users to pay significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions because of the high commission fee imposed by Apple on developers and passed on to consumers in the form of higher subscription prices for the same service on the Apple App Store,” the EC said in a news release.

Beyond that, Apple’s “anti-steering provisions” caused “non-monetary harm” by worsening the iOS user experience, making them engage in a “cumbersome search” before coming across relevant offers outside the app, the commission said.

Apple responded with its promise to appeal the decision, while criticizing what it said was the EC’s “failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm.”

The appeal came one day after Apple said it plans to seek a dismissal for an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The company argues that it faces heavy competition, that customers dissatisfied with its products can find another supplier, and that the government has not shown that Apple can levy supracompetitive prices.

The Justice Department filed its suit in March, alleging that Apple abuses its market power, enjoys an illegal monopoly on smartphones and digital wallets, and enforces that monopoly via contractual restrictions on developers.

“We allege that Apple has maintained monopoly power in the smartphone market, not simply by staying ahead of the competition on the merits, but by violating antitrust law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news release following the suit. “If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.”

In a statement provided to PYMNTS at the time, Apple said that the EU suit is wrong on the facts and the law, and that the company would “vigorously” challenge it.