The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Apple can delay changes to App Store rules, appeals court says. A federal appeals court delivered a last-minute reprieve to Apple, agreeing to the company’s request to delay a legal order requiring it to make policy changes to its App Store that could help app developers circumvent what they say are unfair fees. If the appeals court had not ruled, Apple on Thursday would have had to start allowing companies to include links within their apps directing customers to outside websites where they can pay for those companies’ services or subscriptions. That would have prevented Apple from taking a cut of up to 30 percent on those transactions. The order was initially made in September as part of the verdict in a yearlong court case between Apple and Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game Fortnite.
EXCLUSIVE Microsoft set to win EU antitrust nod for $16 bln Nuance deal, sources say. U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is set to secure unconditional EU antitrust approval for its $16 billion bid for artificial intelligence and speech technology firm Nuance Communications Inc, three people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft announced in April the deal that will boost its presence in cloud solutions for healthcare customers in a sector where demand has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuance, known for pioneering speech technology and helping launch Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) virtual assistant, Siri, serves 77% of U.S. hospitals. The deal, the latest in the tech industry and Microsoft’s second biggest after its $26.2 billion buy of LinkedIn in 2016, follows heightened regulatory scrutiny of “killer acquisitions” whereby tech giants shut down nascent start-ups and potential rivals after buying them.
Apple’s ‘hands-off’ approach with Roblox draws focus in DOJ antitrust probe – The Information. U.S. prosecutors are looking for instances in which Apple Inc is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers such as gaming firm Roblox and some others, the Information reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is probing key revelations from the antitrust trial between Apple and Epic Games in May, according to the report, in which the “Fortnite” maker had argued that Apple had given a free pass to Roblox, whose app lets people pick from a selection of games to play. Following this, Roblox had removed reference to the word “game” and changed it to “experiences”, the Information reported. The DOJ recently asked Roblox why it made the language change and also wants to know whether Apple’s 2019 launch of its Arcade game app store made it more difficult for game developers to compete with the iPhone maker, according to the report.
Watchdog fears Veolia-Suez could harm competition in UK. Britain’s antitrust watchdog said the merger of French waste and water management groups Veolia and Suez could lessen competition and mean higher bills for councils in the UK. Veolia and Suez are two of only a small number of suppliers in Britain that are able to service the largest waste management contracts, the Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement on Tuesday. In its response, Veolia said it intended to study remedies that would reassure the British regulator, customers and competitors that the deal would not distort the market balance.
Edited by Gary J. Malone