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U.S. government sues Apple for smartphone antitrust violations


The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Apple, accusing the tech giant of “unlawful exclusionary behaviour” by engineering an illegal monopoly in smartphones that boxes out competitors and stifles innovation.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New Jersey, alleges that Apple has monopoly power in the smartphone market and uses its control over the iPhone to “engage in a broad, sustained, and illegal course of conduct.”

The lawsuit — which was also filed with attorneys general from 15 states as well as D.C. —  takes direct aim at the digital fortress that Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif., has assiduously built around the iPhone and other popular products such as the iPad, Mac and Apple Watch to create what is often referred to as a “walled garden.”

Apple has defended the walled garden — meticulously designed hardware and software that can seamlessly flourish together while requiring consumers to do little more than turn on the devices — as an indispensable feature prized by consumers who want the best protection available for their personal information.

It has described the barrier as a way for the iPhone to distinguish itself from devices running on Google’s Android software, which isn’t as restrictive and is licensed to a wide range of manufacturers.

Antitrust regulators made it clear in their complaint that they see Apple’s walled garden most as a weapon to ward off competition, creating market conditions that enable it to charge higher prices that have propelled its lofty profit margins while stifling innovation.

WATCH | Merrick Garland explains why the U.S. Department of Justice is taking on a tech giant: 

U.S. attorney general on why his department is taking on Apple

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says recent cases against tech giants — including a major lawsuit against Apple — show the Department of Justice ‘does not have a different rule for the powerful as compared to the powerless.’

“Apple undermines apps, products, and services that would otherwise make users less reliant on the iPhone, promote interoperability, and lower costs for consumers and developers,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Apple exercises its monopoly power to extract more money from consumers, developers, content creators, artists, publishers, small businesses, and merchants, among others.

“If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference on Thursday.

Apple called the lawsuit “wrong on the facts and the law” and said it “will vigorously defend against it.” The company said it would “set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology.”

“At Apple, we innovate every day to make technology people love — designing products that work seamlessly together, protect people’s privacy and security, and create a magical experience for our users,” the…



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