Apple to Request Dismissal of DOJ's Antitrust Case, Citing Lack of Evidence

Apple seeks dismissal of DOJ antitrust case; court ruling expected late this year or early next year.

By Athena Xu

5/23, 04:10 EDT
Apple Inc.
Amazon.com, Inc.
Alphabet Inc.
Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.
Meta Platforms, Inc.

Key Takeaway

  • Apple seeks dismissal of DOJ's antitrust case, arguing lack of evidence for anticompetitive conduct and monopoly power.
  • DOJ lawsuit against Live Nation-Ticketmaster aims to break up the company, causing a 10% drop in Live Nation shares.
  • Biden administration intensifies antitrust actions, targeting major firms like Google, Amazon, and Meta Platforms.

Apple Seeks Dismissal of Antitrust Case

Apple Inc. is preparing to request the dismissal of the Justice Department’s antitrust case against the company. The tech giant's legal team has sent a letter to the judge in New Jersey, outlining their arguments for the motion to dismiss, which will be formally filed next month. Apple contends that the government’s complaint fails to demonstrate anticompetitive conduct, substantial anticompetitive effects, or monopoly power in a relevant market.

“This court should reject the invitation to forge a new theory of antitrust liability that no court has recognized, that would harm innovation, and that would only deprive consumers of the key competitive features that make iPhone distinctive,” Apple stated in its filing. The Justice Department is expected to respond to Apple’s letter by May 30, with the court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss anticipated either later this year or early next year. If the case proceeds to trial, it is unlikely to occur for several years.

Motions to dismiss are common in antitrust cases but are rarely granted in government lawsuits. For instance, Alphabet Inc.’s Google filed a similar motion in a Justice Department case concerning its advertising technology business but was unsuccessful. Conversely, Meta Platforms Inc. managed to get a Federal Trade Commission complaint dismissed by arguing insufficient evidence of a monopoly in social networking, although the FTC later filed an amended complaint that was allowed to proceed.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Apple, filed in March, accuses the company of violating antitrust laws by blocking rivals and app developers from accessing key hardware and software features. The complaint follows a five-year investigation into Apple and similar actions by other regions, including the European Union, to limit Apple’s market power. The lawsuit alleges that Apple’s control over app distribution stifles innovation and makes it difficult for consumers to switch phones. It also claims that Apple has refused to support cross-platform messaging apps, limited third-party digital wallets and non-Apple smartwatches, and blocked mobile cloud streaming services.

“This case is about freeing smartphone markets from Apple’s anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct and restoring competition to lower smartphone prices for consumers, reducing fees for developers, and preserving innovation for the future,” the lawsuit states.

DOJ Targets Live Nation-Ticketmaster

The US Justice Department, along with a group of states, is set to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment Inc. for its control over concert ticket sales through Ticketmaster. The suit, expected to be filed in the Southern District of New York, seeks remedies including the breakup of Live Nation, according to sources familiar with the case. Following the news, Live Nation shares dropped by 10% in late trading.

The Justice Department has declined to comment, and Live Nation has not responded to requests for comment. This lawsuit is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to enhance competition, which has included cases against major companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc.

Live Nation, the largest US concert promoter, merged with Ticketmaster in 2010. The merger was approved by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department under a settlement that required the company not to retaliate against concert venues that chose not to use Ticketmaster. However, the Trump administration found that Live Nation had violated this agreement and imposed a modified settlement in 2019, which included an external monitor to investigate further allegations.

The Biden administration opened a new investigation into Live Nation in 2022 due to ongoing concerns about the company’s compliance with the settlement terms. Public interest in the case surged after Ticketmaster mishandled the high demand for Taylor Swift tickets later that year. The Justice Department has already filed monopolization cases against Google and Apple, and the Federal Trade Commission is seeking to force Meta Platforms Inc. to divest Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as suing Amazon for monopolization of online marketplace services.