The EU has said Apple violated antitrust law in the Spotify case, but a final ruling is yet to come

The EU has updated its antitrust case against Apple and its control over iOS music streaming services with potentially good news for plaintiff Spotify.

The European Commission, the EU body investigating the charges, said Apple violated antitrust laws by stopping rival music companies such as Spotify from advertising where and when how users can subscribe to their apps. This update of the case is not a final verdict, and it is up to Apple to defend a defense and prove that the charges are wrong.

Spotify first filed a complaint against Apple in 2019, with the European Commission opening an investigation in 2020. The Commission issued an initial “statement of objections” against Apple in 2021, outlining potential violations of antitrust law. The Commission focused on two issues: that Apple forced developers to use its own in-app payment system through which it collects fees (the “IAP Obligation”), and that Apple stopped developers from from alternative advertising methods to subscribe to their apps (the “anti-steering obligations”).

Today, the Commission has updated this statement of objections. It dismissed the first charge, saying it “no longer stands on the legality of the IAP obligation,” and focused on the second. The Commission also strengthened its language regarding this charge, stating a “preliminary view” that “the anti-steering obligations of Apple are unfair trading conditions in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’).”

For a while, Apple didn’t allow rival streaming services like Spotify to include links to the company’s apps in their own subscription sign-ups. (Apple lifted this restriction in March 2022 to shut down a Japanese antitrust investigation.)

If found guilty, Apple could be fined up to $39.4 billion

Apple can now respond to EU charges. If found guilty the company faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual global turnover. That would be a fine of up to $39.4 billion dollars based on Apple’s 2022 revenue of $394.33 billion dollars. We’ve reached out to the company for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

In a statement from Spotify, the company’s general counsel, Eve Konstan, said: “Today, the European Commission sends a clear message that anti-competitive behavior and unfair Apple’s practices have harmed consumers and unscrupulous developers for a long time. We urge the Commission to reach a swift decision in this case to protect consumers and restore fair competition to the platform. iOS.

Last month, Spotify and other European companies urged the Commission to speed up its investigation and take “prompt and decisive action” against Apple. (Despite its own announcement today, the Commission says that “there is no legal deadline for the conclusion of an antitrust investigation.”) If further delayed, the case may also run a new round. of the obligations Apple and others must comply with under the EU’s upcoming Digital Markets Act, or DMA. This will force Apple to allow third-party app stores and app sideloading on iOS for the first time.

Leave a Comment