A landmark antitrust case decision could be reached by the end of the month, but that's by no means the only concern Apple Inc.
Legal experts assume that federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will be on Apple's side
in his legal dispute with Epic Games Inc. and rejected the primary demands of the "Fortnite" manufacturer to load apps in the App Store and to operate a third-party payment system within the digital store. However, Rogers could invoke the Unfair Competition Act in California, which could create legal and regulatory problems for Apple.
For more: The (predicted) Epic vs. Apple verdict is here
The experts based their predictions on Rogers ’question during the closing arguments in May. Both sides are almost certain that they will appeal against the decision and thus initiate a process that could possibly take years. Apple and Epic declined to comment.
Federal regulators, state lawmakers, and legal experts are watching closely where Gonzalez Rogers lands, while many agree it could be an antitrust renaissance. The judge could focus on California law, as it has been modified more heavily in response to the rise of big tech and other companies in the past few decades, while federal law has not, at least until current legislative efforts have borne fruit.
"We are at a tipping point based on the President's Executive Order on Competitiveness, federal appointments, European regulatory action, US law and investigations, and private lawsuits," Joel Mitnick, an antitrust expert and former FTC litigator, told MarketWatch. "It is unlikely that we will get out of this time without major changes."
While Rogers & # 39; Decision could trigger a lengthy appeals process, both houses in Congress are pushing a comprehensive antitrust law with far-reaching consequences for Apple, Google from Alphabet Inc.
and Amazon.com Inc.
Apple appears to be a major focus in the near future, however, as a law was passed on Wednesday regulating app stores, while competitors like Facebook, Tile, and Spotify Technology
publicly sniff at the iPhone manufacturer.
The Senate Open App Markets Act, designed to regulate app stores and written by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. is supported, all sharp and vocal critics of Big Tech, was announced on Wednesday.
Read more: New Senate Bill Targets Apple and Google's App Store Tactics
"We have been looking at this problem case for some time," Blumenthal told MarketWatch. "The trial (Epic vs. Apple) produced dramatic evidence, but it did not shape our legislation."
The bill cited by Blumenthal is the latest in both convention houses to deal with big tech. A package of bills from Rep. David Cicilline, DR.I., could be put to the House vote later this year as Cicilline, Chair of the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, negotiates with members of the California House, to gain their support for laws affecting some of the state's largest corporations – Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook.
More information: What the House of Representatives Antitrust Laws Do
In the Senate, a separate bill, led by Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Would push for general cartel reform rather than the sector-specific rules in the House Act on mergers and acquisitions and dominant digital platforms targeting certain companies. Klobuchar, chair of the subcommittee on competition policy, antitrust and consumer rights, asked for bipartisan support for their legislation, which would come in addition to the bill for the App Store.
A Klobuchar spokeswoman confirmed that she is working on draft laws for a House of Representatives antitrust package to contain technology giants. The contours of the law would be based more closely on European regulatory law and shift the burden of proof in antitrust proceedings to the defendant and not to the plaintiff. Klobuchar is also committed to expanding antitrust case resources and personnel within the FTC and the Department of Justice.
Legal scholars and consumer advocates argue that revisions of the outdated antitrust law are essential in order to help shape it for the digital economy. The rise of online platforms and stores has placed increasing pressure on smaller competitors and stifled innovation, resulting in less choice for consumers.
The pressure on legislation reflects pressure from politicians and consumers to more closely monitor the so-called GAFA of Big Tech – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon – whose power was expanded during the pandemic. The combined market value of the four companies is nearly $ 7 trillion.
“Economies change. Antitrust law is a century out of date, ”said Andy Yen, CEO of Proton Technologies, a founding member of the Coalition for App Fairness, an organization of more than 50 developers who speak out against Apple and Google's App Store guidelines. Without new antitrust parameters, he added, federal agencies and courts would "put a knife in a shootout" to enforce anti-competitive behavior.
Coalition for App Fairness, whose other members include Epic and Spotify, has worked with federal and state lawmakers to address what they believe to be anti-competitive and stifling business practices on the App Store and Google Play Store. The burden of investigations and legal proceedings has often resulted in big tech rivals pointing fingers at each other, as Apple did when criticizing Facebook's privacy and security flaws. Facebook, on the other hand, ran an advertising campaign in the spring of the changes to the iPhone operating system that defended personalized advertising. The social network argued that targeted advertising is vital to the success of small businesses, millions of which rely on Facebook.
See also: Why Facebook is considering an antitrust lawsuit against Apple
President Biden's recent far-reaching antitrust and competition law enforcement ordinance – coupled with the appointment of Lina Khan, considered by many to be the most progressive leader in the history of the FTC, and Jonathan Kanter as head of the Justice Department's antitrust division – underscore the government's seriousness. say financial experts.
"There is a seismic shift in antitrust enforcement, although it is moving at a rapid pace," Ed Mills, who handles antitrust law for Raymond James, told MarketWatch.
Above all, Khan is having a good time. As an outspoken critic of Big Tech, she has expressed her willingness to pursue cases such as Instagram and WhatsApp's spin-off from Facebook that could lead to legal proceedings. While former FTC commissioners have been content to seek company comparisons, Khan wants court decisions that could drive the legislation forward, Mills said.
See Also: The New FTC Lina Khan Chair Is Big Tech's Biggest Nightmare
Khan is likely to influence Big Tech more than Kanter. She has rulemaking authority on a five-person commission, isn't afraid to flex her political muscles, and generally has more freedom of action, according to a man familiar with Apple's legal strategy. In fact, one of Khan's first steps as FTC chairman greatly expanded her powers.