Apple Fires Back Against $1.95 Billion Streaming Music Fine In the EU — While Simultaneously Challenging US-Based Antitrust Litigation

Apple challenges EU fine
  • Save

Apple challenges EU fine
  • Save
Photo Credit: Andy Wang

Apple challenges a more than $1.9 billion fine issued by the EU for impeding fair competition from its music streaming rivals, including Spotify. But that’s not all.

Apple Inc. has filed a suit at the European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg, challenging the €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) fine issued by the EU in March for curbing fair competition from its rivals in the digital music streaming sector. The EU’s antitrust arm, the European Commission, says it stands ready to defend its decisions in court.

The EU’s fine levied against Apple also included an order to no longer prevent music streaming apps such as Spotify from informing users of cheaper deals outside of the App Store. Undoubtedly, this was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, leading to Apple challenging the decision.

Initially, the investigation into Apple’s practices stemmed from a complaint issued five years ago by Spotify, who claimed it was forced to increase the price of its monthly subscriptions to cover the cost of Apple’s so-called stranglehold on the goings on of its App Store.

Though Apple has not responded to media requests for comment over its latest filing, the company has pointed to an earlier post on its blog in which it claimed EU regulators failed to uncover any “credible evidence of consumer harm.”

The Cupertino-based company’s appeal only addresses the drop in the bucket that is the EU’s $1.95 billion fine against it. The European Commission previously hit Apple with a record $14 billion tax bill over Irish state aid, which is still pending.

Meanwhile, in the US, Apple is gearing up to fight an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and 15 states back in March over the company’s monopolization of the smartphone market.

On Tuesday, May 21, a letter to US District Judge Julien X. Neals of New Jersey asserts, “far from being a monopolist, Apple faces fierce competition from well-established rivals,” and that the lawsuit against it should be dismissed. According to Apple, the DOJ relies on a “theory of antitrust liability that no court has recognized.”

Reuters reports the Justice Department is expected to respond to Apple’s letter within seven days; the court requires parties to submit letters like Apple’s in the hopes of expediting such cases before advancing to “potentially more robust and expensive effort.”

The DOJ has said Apple charges as much as $1,599 for an iPhone, making a larger profit than any of its rivals. This, combined with Apple imposing “hidden charges” on various business partners, including software developers and credit card companies, leads to consumers’ suffering price increases.

“Consumers should not have to pay higher prices because companies violate the antitrust laws,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in March. “If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.”