Apple fights €1.8bil EU antitrust fine for curbs on Spotify

The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust arm, said it stands ready to defend all its decisions in court. — Photo by Medhat Dawoud on Unsplash

Apple Inc. is challenging a €1.8bil (RM9.1bil) fine levied by the European Union for thwarting fair competition from music-streaming rivals, including Spotify Technology SA.

The iPhone maker has filed a suit at the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg to topple the March decision, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The EU’s crackdown on Apple also included an order to stop preventing music-streaming apps from informing users of cheaper deals away from its App Store.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint half a decade ago from Stockholm-based Spotify, which claimed it was forced to ramp up the price of its monthly subscriptions to cover costs associated with Apple’s alleged stranglehold on how the App Store operates.

The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust arm, said it stands ready to defend all its decisions in court.

Apple declined to comment other than pointing to an earlier blog post in which it said that EU regulators failed to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm.

Apple’s appeal sets up yet another court battle with the EU regulator, which previously slapped the Cupertino, California-based company with a record €13 billion tax bill in a dispute over Irish state aid. The final outcome is still pending after Apple won an early round.

Silicon Valley firms have been on the receiving end of a campaign by EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to tame their dominance through fines and regulatory actions, including a landmark new law – the Digital Markets Act.

The new rules establish a raft of dos and don’ts for some of the world’s most powerful tech firms. To bring it in line with the rules, Apple has been forced to overhaul its iOS, Safari and App Store offerings in the EU. Apple has mounted further court challenges against the regulation. – Bloomberg

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