DOJ sues Apple over iPhone monopoly in landmark antitrust case

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The Department of Justice sued Apple
on Thursday, saying its iPhone ecosystem is a monopoly that drove its “astronomical valuation” at the expense of consumers, developers and rival phone makers.

The government has not ruled out breaking up one of the largest companies in the world, with a Justice Department official saying on a briefing call that structural relief was on the table if the U.S. were to win.

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The lawsuit claims Apple’s anti-competitive practices extend beyond the iPhone and Apple Watch businesses, citing Apple’s advertising, browser, FaceTime and news offerings.

“Each step in Apple’s course of conduct built and reinforced the moat around its smartphone monopoly,” according to the suit, filed by the DOJ and 16 attorneys general in New Jersey federal court.

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Apple shares fell more than 4% during trading Thursday. A breakup of Apple if successful would be one of only a handful of breakups under the Sherman Act. The DOJ has considered using it in other antitrust cases, but has not done so since the breakup of the Bell System in 1982.

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