Apple Hit with Class Action Lawsuit by Developers in France

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP today filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple on behalf of France-based iOS developers, alleging that Apple’s App Store policies are anti-competitive. A key focus of the complaint is Apple’s 30% commission on all transactions made through the App Store.

Hagens Berman is coming hot off a win against Apple last year, wherein it bagged a $100 million USD settlement for U.S.-based developers over the same issues. The law firm last month also filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple over Apple Pay, on behalf of financial institutions that issue payment cards in the U.S.

Plaintiffs named in the new App Store antitrust lawsuit include the developers of the Figaro news app, the L’Équipe sports app, and le GESTE, a French association of publishers of online content.

The class-action is being led by Hagens Berman’s Steve Berman — who previously secured a $560 million settlement against Apple for eBook price-fixing — and Paris-based antitrust lawyer Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi.

“We’re fresh off the heels of our hard-won settlement with Apple and ready to get back in the ring,” said Berman, who serves as managing partner at Hagens Berman, in a statement to iPhone in Canada.

“Our firm is happy to see iOS developers from other countries seeking the same justice we were able to achieve for U.S. developers. We believe they too have been wrongfully subjected to the stifling policies of Apple’s App Store, and we intend to hold Apple to the law.”

The antitrust lawsuit points out that a report released by the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust in October 2020 found Apple to be a “willful monopolist” in how it operates the App Store and deals with in-app purchases.

“Apple has behaved as alleged herein in a willful attempt to obtain a monopoly in the global market,” the lawsuit argues. “There is no valid business necessity or pro-competitive justification for Apple’s conduct.”

The lawsuit is seeking reforms in Apple’s App Store policies, citing Apple’s hefty commissions, annual App Store membership fees for developers, closed-off app distribution ecosystem on iOS, and more as evidence of anti-competitive practices.

“This suit aims to remedy the harm that Apple has caused to France-resident iOS developers—purchaser-participants in the U.S. domestic market for these services—by way of its violations of U.S. antitrust and California fair-competition law,” Hagens Berman and Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi said in their complaint.

The class action wants to legally force Apple to end its abusive monopoly, allow third-party app stores on iOS, discontinue pricing mandates, and above all, reimburse developers for overcharges made by leveraging its monopoly power.