The lawsuit, which could be filed as early as March, alleges that Apple has imposed software and hardware limitations on its iPhones and iPads to impede competitors from effectively competing, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (Jan. 17).
The Justice Department and Apple lawyers have met three times to discuss the potential lawsuit, according to the report. The agency has been investigating Apple since 2019 but chose to prioritize its cases against Google.
If the lawsuit proceeds, it would mark the fourth case pursued by U.S. antitrust enforcers under the Biden administration’s crackdown on technology giants, the report said. The government is also pursuing cases against Meta and Amazon.
In a separate development, the U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday (Jan. 16) that it declined to hear appeals by Apple and Epic Games related to an antitrust suit over the App Store, per a PYMNTS report. The trial judge in that case found that Apple’s App Store rules did not violate federal antitrust law but ruled that the company’s limits on developer communications violated California’s state antitrust law.
That legal war between Apple and Epic dates back to 2020, when Apple removed the game maker’s flagship title Fortnite from the App Store after Epic created a workaround to avoid paying the 30% fee on customers’ in-app purchases.
The Justice Department had previously weighed in on the suit and was awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision before taking further action, according to the report.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Apple’s moves are being closely monitored as the bloc prepares to enforce new digital gatekeeper rules on March 7, the report said. The Digital Markets Act aims to prevent powerful tech firms from favoring their own services over those of rivals and requires companies to allow users to download apps from competing platforms.
Apple’s App Store falls under this law, although the company is appealing the designation, per the report. Despite the pending appeal, Apple has stated that it expects to make changes to the App Store in response to the new rules.