The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
U.S. top court leans towards allowing Apple App Store antitrust suit. U.S. Supreme Court justices appear open to letting a lawsuit proceed against Apple Inc. that accused it of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the market for iPhone software applications and causing consumers to overpay. The nine justices heard an hour of arguments in an appeal by the Cupertino, California-based technology company of a lower court’s decision to revive the proposed class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in California in 2011 by a group of iPhone users seeking monetary damages. The case may hinge on how the justices apply one of the court’s past decisions to the claims against Apple. That 1977 precedent limited damages for anti-competitive conduct to those directly overcharged rather than indirect victims who paid an overcharge passed on by others.
EU antitrust regulators seek views of Google rivals. EU antitrust regulators have asked Google’s rivals if the internet search company unfairly demotes local search competitors, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters, a move which could lead to a fourth case against the Alphabet unit. Google has been fined a total 6.76 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in the last 17 months for allegedly favoring its comparison shopping service and for allegedly using its Android mobile operating system to reinforce what the European Commission claims is Google’s search engine market power. The European Commission is also wrapping up a third case which involves Google’s AdSense advertising service.
Exclusive: Vodafone, Liberty Global Deal Faces Full EU Antitrust Scrutiny-Source. Vodafone’s $21.8 billion proposed acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in Germany and eastern Europe is likely to face a full EU antitrust investigation, a person familiar with the matter said. The European Commission’s move could ratchet up pressure on the world’s second-largest mobile operator to offer concessions, unless it can convince the EU competition enforcer that the deal poses no competition issues. Investors and industry players, however, will be hoping for a flexible regulatory stance given that the Commission has just given unconditional clearance for Deutsche Telekom’s acquisition of Tele2’s Dutch business after initial concerns. The deal between Vodafone and U.S. cable pioneer John Malone’s Liberty would enable Vodafone to better compete with Deutsche Telekom in the German rival’s home market.