U.S. lacks the cash to sue Apple & Google. For now.

From Leah Nylen’s “Potential DOJ suits against Apple and Google delayed amid budget woes” posted Thursday on Politico:

The Justice Department is still months away from deciding whether to sue Apple or file a new suit against Google over antitrust concerns, two people familiar with the discussions said — a question facing new financial complications after the collapse of President Joe Biden’s social spending bill.

DOJ antitrust prosecutors had earlier aimed to wrap up their probes of the two tech giants by Dec. 31, culminating years of scrutiny by the department into Apple’s App Store and Google’s command of the online ad market.

But now the decision on going to court is likely to come in March or later because of continued discussions about where to file and who will make the call, the two people told POLITICO. They spoke anonymously to discuss internal DOJ deliberations.

Another major concern for the department is the likely expense of a court battle with the two companies, each of which has a market value exceeding $1 trillion. That issue became more fraught this week when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) torpedoed Democrats’ Build Back Better package, which would have given DOJ a $500 million boost for antitrust enforcement.

My take: No tears shed in this crowd, I suspect. I’m also not sensing a lot of public support for breaking up, opening up or constraining either company right now. Facebook, on the other hand, might be cruising for a bruising.

19 Comments

    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Even if the DOJ got the money to prosecute Apple/Google they won’t because of the likelihood they’d lose.

      The DOJ, like all resource constrained prosecutors, saves courtroom time for cases with a very high probability of a conviction and a plea deal can’t be worked out.

      Prosecutors don’t dispense justice, they manage a limited budget to its greatest effect.

      Civil cases are another thing. Litigants (a lawyers best friend) will fight to the death over nothing.

      1
      December 24, 2021
  1. I believe the ruling by Judge Gonzalez Rogers, and her inability to find evidence of a trust to bust, left the DOJ on the end of a long limb. I doubt members of Congress, the Executive/ DOJ get a flood of requests to prosecute the maker of their favorite devices, excluding Epic’s mimeographed efforts. $100 million in legal fees spent on a case Judge Roberts & the Supremes ultimately toss? That’s too much hay being given to ravenous opposition characters & their press outlets during a tough election year.

    1
    December 24, 2021
  2. Fred Stein said:
    My gripe:

    There are tons of real corporate abuses ranging from hours long hold times to resolve problems caused by the provider, to adding surcharges surreptitiously. On the surcharge, check car rental companies.

    As well companies like Oracle, Cisco, and HPE have a virtual lock (I call it a micro-monopoly) on their government, and other, customers because the hold the data hostage. Whether it’s the data transport, database, or other data most of these customer lack the skill to extricate themselves. Or Microsoft’s LinkedIn, who charge you to access the network that you help build. There’s no realistic competition for LinkedIn. And Meta – ‘nuf said.

    Note who bought-did-not-build: GOOGLE, YouTube; MSFT, LinkedIn; Meta, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus. Antitrust is supposed to prevent exactly this abuse of giant incumbents to buy out the newcomers.

    3
    December 24, 2021
  3. Michael Goldfeder said:
    After the very lengthy and detailed decision by the Federal Judge in the Epic case, the concept that the App Store stifles innovation and thereby violates Antitrust laws, which was the claim postured by Epic, was resoundingly rejected. This constant phrase that the App Store thwarts innovation and harms consumers is parroted by lawmakers and regulators who after this Federal Court decision all look dumber than a box of rocks. If that’s even possible. I apologize to all rocks everywhere!

    One part of the Federal opinion that has been conveniently ignored by the foregoing collection of wind bags, is that there was evidence presented by Epic that even when developers offered consumers a discount on their services on other platforms, a high % of consumers still wanted to keep their payments setup as is, in order to afford themselves the protections against being ripped off by developers.

    So their (Vestager and Khan’s) argument now becomes: “Consumers must pay developers directly to prevent Apple from receiving any money from those transactions because it stifles innovation and violates antitrust laws.” Huh?

    That’s basically the premise for both Vestager and Lina Khan. What makes them both look even more idiotic, if that’s even possible, is essentially they’re telling consumers who to pay and how it’s to be done. The twist of irony throughout this entire ham handed process is the concept of privacy that lawmakers all say needs to be addressed.

    Perhaps one day they’ll all wake up and smell the coffee, lattes, espressos, or whatever else they drink in the morning and recognize that Apple has been doing that since Forever to protect consumers!

    Epic games has laid the groundwork for their own demise, by opting out of the class settlement Apple entered into with a truckload of other developers who all agreed to abide by various App Store contract terms and allow themselves to be able to contact Apple customers directly and offer a way to pay outside of the App Store for their services. It remains to be seen how many Apple customers will put their personal payment information at risk in that manner.

    Merry Christmas to all Apple 3.0 subscribers, PED and Robert for organizing zoom calls, and all you lurkers who need to sign up ASAP in order to garner the pertinent and tremendous information this platform provides to all subscribers who have a position in Apple stock and products!

    5
    December 24, 2021
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    Perhaps if the US government ran itself as efficient as Apple runs Apple, then the government would have the needed funds.

    This sort of reminds me of the time my site review team uncovered fraud, waste and abuse in one of our smaller federally funded projects. After meeting with the IG office presenting the evidence I asked for a criminal investigation. The IG office declined, saying the cost of recovery was less than the cost of expenses incurred by the IG staff to pursue. It all boiled down to money.

    3
    December 24, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      I worked on a major contract that was not going well, and the PM did a similar calculation. The cancellation costs exceeded the cost-to-complete. (or more accurately, the cost-to-fall-off-the-edge-of-the-contract.) I certainly understood the decision, but it was real disappointment with respect to accountability.

      0
      December 26, 2021
  5. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    Build Back Better shouldn’t mean funding and exhausting taxpayer dollars attacking and harassing Apple because the company is successful. There are better ways to build our nation and its economy aside from attacking a company that contributes positively to our way-out-of-balance trade balance, contributes billions of dollars through income taxes to fund needed services and an enterprise that directly and indirectly provides employment opportunities for millions of people in the United States and around the world. When we attack that which creates opportunities we attack the very underpinnings of what makes this nation a people of opportunity and a nation in which dreamers are free to dream, create and move our society forward.

    5
    December 24, 2021
    • Michael Goldfeder said:
      @Robert: Very well put.

      I also just read that yesterday the State of California AG’s Office has filed a request to “weigh in” on the Epic v. Apple Appellate case. What’s very amusing though is that the AG’s Office doesn’t want to put anything in writing until they have first had an opportunity to see what Apple files in their legal brief. The legal version of standing behind Mom’s apron strings. No guts no glory!

      2
      December 24, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        IANAL, but “waiting to read the brief before filing” seems to me to fly in the face of an Amicus brief, which is supposed to advise the court on -the law-, not on the details of a specific pleading. (There are some good articles that a web search will pop up, but I don’t want to put any links here with the likelihood of being ‘blocked awaiting moderation’)

        Now I can see California’s interest in preserving their laws as an extension/alternative to Federal law. But they should be required to argue that from whole cloth, and not as a response to Apple’s filings! I’ll be surprised if the Appeals Court allows this, but then I’ve been very surprised by a lot of things that happen in courts.

        1
        December 24, 2021
        • Michael Goldfeder said:
          @David: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will issue the AG’s Office a date to file their brief. Or they will advise them politely that they don’t need any legal assistance in doing their judicial job. I’m leaning on the latter as the AG had an opportunity to file what’s known as an interpleader in the Epic lawsuit as an interested party to the proceedings, but chose instead to sit idly on the sidelines.

          Any date that is provided by the Ninth Circuit, if at all, will be given well before Apple will be required to file both their Respondent’s Brief to Epic’s Opening Brief, as well as Apple’s filing of their cross appellant brief on the lower court’s injunction ruling.

          This also opens the door for Apple to file an opposition to the California AG’s request to file a brief, and ironically will slow down the case even more.

          Epic ought to settle and get themselves back on the App Store. The folly of all of this customer contact by the developers presupposes that consumers want to leave the App Store payment system to save a few coins. I personally don’t, and believe that will be opinion of most Apple customers.

          2
          December 24, 2021
          • David Emery said:
            That Appeals Court has already turned down several other Amici applications…

            And the arguments around US vs CA law are not new. One would think competent California AG lawyers would be prepared to brief this before the Apple appeal ruling.

            1
            December 24, 2021
  6. Adam Foster said:
    Apple should run for President!

    0
    December 24, 2021
  7. Adam Foster said:
    A rising tide floats all boats.
    Apple this year allowed me to give my ten employees a $500 cash Xmas envelope!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!
    Good riddance to 2021…

    2
    December 24, 2021
  8. David Drinkwater said:
    Sadly, this is is another case where the headline just doesn’t surprise me.

    0
    December 25, 2021

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