Apple is facing yet another antitrust lawsuit over App Store fees, this time filed by a group of French iOS app developers suing the tech giant in its home state of California. The plaintiffs accuse Apple of anti-competitive practices that allow only one App Store for iOS devices, giving it a monopoly on the distribution of iOS apps and the ability to force developers to pay high fees for in-app purchases.
The complaint alleges that these fees, on top of Apple’s $99 annual developer program fee, cut developer revenue and stifle innovation – and yet developers are not allowed to offer alternative payment methods under Apple’s App Store rules, and cannot distribute your apps to iOS users outside of the App Store, even though Apple allows it on Macs.
The case is now one of several antitrust legal battles Apple is facing, including a high-profile lawsuit with Fortnite maker Epic Games, which under appeal as well as another alternative app store Sidia.
iOS developers named in the lawsuit include French developers Société du Figaro, developer of the news app Figaro; L’Équipe 24/24, developer of sports news and streaming app L’Équipe; and le GESTE, a French association made up of French publishers of online content and services, including iOS app developers.
The group is represented by American Hagens Berman, law firmwhich last year won a $100 million settlement against Apple’s App Store policy and recently filed $1 billion case against Apple due to antitrust issues with Apple Pay.
Hagens Berman Managing Partner Steve Berman has a track record of beating tech giants by providing settlement agreement for $560 million v. Apple regarding price fixing for e-books and $90 million settlement on behalf of Android developers. He is working with Paris-based antitrust lawyer Fairuz Masmi-Dazi on a proposed class action.
“We have just completed our hard-won agreement with Apple and are ready to return to the ring,” Berman said in a statement. “Our firm is pleased to see iOS developers from other countries seeking the same fairness that we have been able to achieve for US developers. We believe they have also been wrongfully subjected to Apple’s App Store chokehold policy, and we intend to hold Apple accountable.”
The lawsuit seeks to force Apple to allow competition in iOS app distribution and eliminate pricing requirements that prevent developers from setting their own rates for in-app purchases. He also wants Apple to refund “overpayments” to developers and to ban Apple from raising the current 15% developer fee under its small business program for at least three years.
In addition, the proposed settlement will allow US Apple iOS developers to communicate with their customers outside of their apps about ways to purchase other than Apple’s in-app purchase system. Developers will be allowed to communicate with customers using information collected by their apps, subject to consumer consent and opt-out. Apple, however, has already announced a settlement what allows such communication last year, and subsequently updated its App Store policies to reflect this change.
If the developers win, it won’t be the first antitrust lawsuit against Apple in France. tech giant was fined 1.1 billion euros. ($1.2 billion) in 2020 by the French Competition Authority for antitrust violations related to restrictions on wholesaler contracts it filed an appeal. In addition, the European Startup Association France Digitale was also renowned critic of Apple’s practices, and has worked on own legal action.
The news of the filing was first reported Reuters. Apple has not yet commented.
Complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California is attached below.
Credit: techcrunch.com /