The US DoJ sues Apple for ‘throttling competition’ in landmark lawsuit

The Department of Justice has filed a landmark lawsuit against Apple, accusing the tech company of monopolizing the smartphone market and “throttling competition”.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed the lawsuit on March 21 in New Jersey, alleging that the tech giant used its control of the iPhone to limit competitors and consumer options. This is illegal in the United States and has, according to the lawsuit, resulted in blocking the growth of new apps and smartphones on the market.

Specifically, the lawsuit states that Apple used “a series of shapeshifting rules” in a bid to “thwart innovation” and “throttle” competitors. Some of the steps taken by the company allegedly include blocking competitor apps, suppressing mobile cloud streaming services, limiting third-party digital wallets, and “diminishing the functionality” of non-Apple smartwatches.

In a public statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the company “undermines apps, products, and services that would otherwise make users less reliant on the iPhone… and lower costs for consumers and developers”. He added that Apple had “maintained its monopoly, not simply by staying ahead of the competition on the merits, but by violating federal antitrust laws”.

“Apple creates barriers that make it extremely difficult and expensive for both users and developers to venture outside the Apple ecosystem,” Mr Garland added.

How has Apple responded to the lawsuit filing?

Apple has stated it will fight the lawsuit and denies the claims outright. A spokesman for the company, Fred Sainz, told US media that the lawsuit was “wrong on the facts and the law” and that Apple would “vigorously defend against it”, as reported by the BBC.

“The lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets,” Mr Sainz said. “If successful, it would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple.”

This marks the third time Apple has been sued by the justice department since 2009 and comes after Apple recently faced a $2 billion lawsuit in the UK and a $539 million fine in the EU following an antitrust probe.

Featured image: Ideogram

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Rachael Davies