Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are under antitrust investigation in the United States over accusations of monopolizing the digital market and harming healthy competition from small developers and companies. However, a seasoned lawyer, Gray Reback says that the United States Justice Department is equipped to conduct a thorough antitrust investigation but lacks the expertise to litigate the tech giants.
The Cupertino tech giant is currently facing several anti-trust investigations in other parts of the world like Italy, Russia, Japan and the EU for App Store policies and over complaints of anti-competitive behavior.
Apple May Not be Litigated in the Antitrust Investigation
Gary Reback is the renowned lawyer who successfully prosecuted Microsoft in an antitrust lawsuit 20 years ago. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Reback explained that the Department of Justice lacks technology-related knowledge, personal and direction to win cases against Apple and other digital and tech giants.
Basing this opinion on past experience 20 years ago, he said even then the government had to hire outside counsels to assist it in the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.
“The Department of Justice seems to have the ability to conduct a thorough antitrust investigation. But it’s unclear whether it has the personnel in place to litigate a case. It may well have to bring in outside attorneys, just like it did with the Microsoft case.
The Justice Department tapped an outside litigator — David Bois — to lead its prosecution of the case. Meanwhile, the team of in-house layers the agency assembled to put together the case was based in San Francisco, even though the trial took place in Washington, D.C. I’m telling you, even back then it was a struggle within the Antitrust Division to find … a good team to support Bois.
“You might logically argue,” he continued, “‘well, weren’t there lawyers in Washington in the Justice Department that could have done this?’ And the answer is no.”
In addition, he elaborated that the regulators also have to re-strategize the approach of how they are going to enforce anti-trust laws on the current giants of the tech industry like Apple, Facebook and others. According to Reback, the definition of what constitutes as anti-competitive behavior has to be clearly defined and implemented because in “the US, the test is usually a very basic and immediate one: do the actions of a large company result in consumers paying higher prices today?” In comparison to the United States, European anti-trust laws focus on if larger companies limit smaller companies from competing. Both approaches have their limitations.
As Apple maintains complete control over the App Store, it faces more scrutiny from regulators and criticism from developers, especially, over the 30% commission rate for in-app purchases.