Apple likely to face US Justice Department antitrust lawsuit

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Apple is likely to face a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit soon, with a new report indicating that the department's two-year-old investigation of the company has recently accelerated.

The Department of Justice reportedly ramped up its Apple probe over the summer of 2021, with DOJ lawyers questioning Apple, as well as its customers and competitors, The Information reported on Monday.

That "flurry of activity" has included a new round of subpoenas that were sent to Apple business partners over the summer, sources said.

At least one source noted that the investigation is very likely to lead to an antitrust lawsuit, though the specifics of the complaint are still up in the air. Additionally, the DOJ has assigned more staff to the probe as department lawyers uncover what they believe are "serious issues."

The Justice Department first launched an investigation into Apple's business practices in 2019, when federal regulators ramped up their scrutiny of Big Tech.

Antitrust investigations of the type targeting Apple can take years to complete. After an investigatory period, DOJ lawyers will submit a recommendation to sue. The Apple case has yet to reach that point, and the timing could also be affected by the pending Senate confirmation of incoming DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter.

The department's investigation is also said to be undeterred by the recent decision in the Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit. Apple largely fended off Epic Games' complaints, and the judge presiding over the case ruled that Apple was not in violation of federal antitrust regulations.

In addition to the investigation in the U.S., Apple is also facing an antitrust probe in Europe after Spotify levied a complaint concerning Apple Music