A firm of lawyers which successfully negotiated two Apple antitrust settlements is once again taking on the Cupertino company.
Hagens Berman, which won a $560M ebook settlement, and more recently a $100M App Store one, is again targeting Apple’s 15% or 30% cut of iOS app sales …
Apple antitrust settlements by Hagens Berman
Apple was found guilty of artificially controlling the price of ebooks back in 2013, a practice which later saw law firm Hagens Berman achieve payouts for customers who bought ebooks from Apple during a two-year period.
The same firm was also behind a more recent class action lawsuit on behalf of small developers. The total settlement there was $100M – paid through a mechanism which allowed Apple to turn it into a PR win – although the judge did question the firm’s 27% cut.
The lawyers are also fighting an Apple Pay antitrust lawsuit on behalf of banks, alleging anticompetitive practices by forcing card issuers to sign up to Apple Pay if they want to get their cards into the Wallet app.
New App Store antitrust case
Now the firm is seeking a similar settlement to the App Store, this time in France. They are working with Paris-based antitrust lawyer Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi. While there are so far only three plaintiffs, the lawyers are inviting any French developers to join the case.
The lawsuit’s named plaintiffs 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 proposed class action seeks to force Apple to end its abusive monopoly, end pricing mandates to reimburse developers for overcharges made through the abuse of its monopoly power […]
“We’re fresh off the heels of our hard-won settlement with Apple and ready to get back in the ring,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and an attorney representing the proposed class of iOS developers. “Our firm is happy to see iOS developers from other countries seeking the same justice we were able to achieve for US 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.”
“Le GESTE and its members are indeed at the forefront of several initiatives and battles for a more balanced and fair functioning of the digital world in France and in Europe. In its nature and magnitude, today’s action shows our determination to seek such changes and redress,” said Bertrand Gié, Le GESTE’s president and head of digital at Le Figaro and Emmanuel Alix, GESTE’s vice president and head of digital at L’Equipe.
“Apple’s policies and restrictions pose critical issues to all iOS developers using the App Store. To a global problem, there shall be a global solution. I believe we can build solid bridges to conceive impactful actions, for we shall leave no room for impunity,” said Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi, Le GESTE’s antitrust attorney and an attorney representing the proposed class of iOS developers in association with Steve Berman.
Although the case is on behalf of French developers, it has been filed in California.
The case was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, bringing the France-based developers’ claims to Apple’s home court. It accuses Apple of engaging in anticompetitive practices in mandating only one app store for iOS devices, which sets the stage for Apple to abuse its market power.
The firm will also be seeking similar agreements to those achieved in the original US case.
Small US iOS developers will also benefit from a pledge that for at least three years following court approval of the settlement, Apple will not raise the 15% commission rate that applies for those participating in its Small Business Program.
Among other benefits of the settlement, Apple will allow all US iOS developers to communicate with their customers outside their apps about purchasing methods other than Apple’s IAP system. Apple also will remove the prohibition against US developers using information obtained within their apps to communicate with their customers outside their apps about the use of purchasing methods other than IAP, subject to consumer consent and opt-out safeguards.
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