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DOJ antitrust lawyers ask to join arguments in Apple appeal

Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan discusses reports that Justice Department antitrust lawyers have asked to participate in arguments in the appeal case for Apple vs. Epic Games.

Video Transcript


- And the US Justice Department wants to have a say on Apple's antitrust battle with Epic Games. Late Friday, the Department was granted 10 minutes of oral arguments during the upcoming appeal. Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan is here with the latest. Alexis?

ALEXIS KEENAN: Hi. So yeah, so this is the epic battle over Epic Games with Apple.

- No pun intended.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Right. And Google too. So Epic has lawsuits pending against both Apple and Google, saying that it should-- that both of those companies are monopolies and operating illegally their respective app stores. So what Apple is saying is that, no, we should be able to keep our walled garden as is. They probably wouldn't use that language.

But Epic wants to have an access for the app developers to charge in-app purchases respectively right into their coffers, basically. They don't want Apple to have that option to charge a 30%, 15% fee on those in-app purchases. So on Friday, the appellate court-- this is the Ninth Circuit in California-- granted a request from both the DOJ and the California Attorney General to present oral arguments in this case that is going to be heard by both parties in October-- at the end of October.

And the risk here, though, is seen as kind of greater for Apple because, at the district court level in California, Apple was seen largely as the winner of this case. There was a judgment that came down there saying that Apple would have to provide some links for app developers to be able to charge for in-app purchases. But largely, this was seen as a victory for Apple.

So the fact that the Justice Department and the attorney general in California want to come in and have a say here is definitely a risk for Apple. You have to look at the revenues for the App Store, which is coupled in with services. Apple doesn't disclose exactly how much money they make. But this is in 2021-- a $68 billion annual revenue for Apple. So this is a major issue, and Apple will certainly want to also have an option to go back and argue after these two agencies have their say.

Also, the district court had said that there were multiple legal errors. In a motion, the DOJ is saying that they came to the wrong conclusion, basically, that the district court judge got it wrong. This is the way they put it in their motion. They said, the US believes that its participation at oral argument would be helpful to the court, especially in explaining how the errors could significantly harm antitrust enforcement beyond the specific context of this case. That's important because, as Politico has reported, the DOJ has an investigation into Apple and may decide to make its own charges against the company.

- So it sounds like this is going to be a bit of a prolonged case. I mean, how long are we expecting it to take until we get a decision from the appellate court?

ALEXIS KEENAN: So once these arguments are made at the end of October, the court could take months. It shouldn't be years for the appellate court to take action, so we could see some major changes coming as early as the end of this year, perhaps, for Apple. But this will be closely watched because of how much revenue the App Store generates for Apple and certainly will have ramifications for the case with Google as well.

- So stay tuned. Alexis Keenan, thanks so much.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Always stay tuned. [LAUGHS]