UK court says App Store class action can go ahead • The Register

A UK court has agreed that a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO) potentially involving 19.6 million consumers in the country can be carried out in a case costing Apple up to £1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion). -dollars) could cost.

A CPO is a class action resolution somewhat similar to a class action lawsuit in the United States.

At issue are Apple’s app store restrictions, which the seller says are necessary for safety and quality control reasons, but which the filing claims are anti-competitive.

The application was made by Dr. Rachael Kent, a Lecturer in Education in Digital Economy and Society at King’s College London, who has worked in private sector consultancy and for the NHS and, as the judgment notes, “has conducted research into how users interact with digital platforms and apps.”

The verdict of the court [PDF]delivered last week, said: “Essentially, the PCR [Dr Rachel Kent – the Proposed Class Representative“] claims that Apple has eliminated any competition from potential or actual competitors through its restrictive terms and conditions and other limitations imposed on iOS, giving it a dominant position (or indeed a monopoly) in app distribution and payment services.

In other words, things are so tightly locked down that developers are forced to follow Apple’s line, and the Cupertino-based company is said to be overcharging iOS device users because of this.

Apple, as might be expected, strongly disagrees with all of the above “and has requested a valor or, alternatively, summary judgment on the overpriced aspect of the lawsuit.”

The numbers are significant. dr Kent is attempting to initiate the process on an opt-out basis on behalf of Everyone iOS users in the UK – around 19.6 million of them. And by what amounts? According to the economist Dr. Kent is between 500 million and 1.5 billion pounds (600,000 to 1.8 billion dollars).

The initial filing was made on May 11, 2021, and the motions for strike out and summary judgment were heard together on May 4 and 5, 2022.

Unfair prices are difficult to prove. The case depends on proving that Apple’s commission is both excessive (with evidence provided by Dr. Kent, including complaints from developers and the costs incurred by the company compared to the App Store’s net income) and unfair (taken here by Kent’s Evidence presented by economists includes that of the company). Increase in profit margin and comparisons with other products and services.)

While careful not to take sides, the court granted the class action motion and Apple’s motions to delete and reverse summary of Dr. Kent’s unfair price abuse lawsuit dismissed.

The stage is therefore set for a full trial in the UK over Apple’s alleged excessive and anti-competitive tendencies.

The registry contacted Apple for comment on the case, and while there was no comment on the ruling, it reiterated the statement it made last year when the lawsuit was filed:

“We believe this action is unfounded and welcome the opportunity to discuss with the court our unwavering commitment to consumers and the many benefits the App Store has brought to the UK innovation economy.

“Commissions charged by the App Store are well within the mainstream of those charged by all other digital marketplaces. In fact, 84 percent of apps in the App Store are free and developers pay Apple nothing. And for the vast majority of developers who also pay Apple a commission because they sell a digital good or service, they are entitled to a 15 percent commission rate.”

Apple relaxed its app store policy in late 2020, halving the commission it charges small developers who make up to $1 million in revenue from paid apps and in-app purchases processed through the App Store. The commission had been a flat rate of 30 percent.

This comes amid a courtroom showdown with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, which focused on allegations that Apple monopolyed its digital businesses and refused to allow alternative payment methods. Epic lost the battle in the US.

However, the protracted legal battle continues elsewhere in the world. ® UK court says App Store class action can go ahead • The Register

Chrissy Callahan

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