Apple defeated antitrust class action lawsuit challenging control of the App Store


Finding fatal flaws in a lawsuit claiming Apple monopolizes the distribution of iOS apps, a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a class action lawsuit seeking to force the iPhone maker to open its App Store and stop charging annual fees to developers.

Lead plaintiff Coronavirus Reporter, an app designed to collect “biostatistical and epidemiological data,” joined other app developers in suing the tech giant for violating antitrust laws last July.

The developers claimed that Apple used its monopoly power to exclude Coronavirus Reporter from the App Store for the benefit of its own “institutional partners.” Apple rejected the software under a policy that bans Covid-related apps unless submitted by a recognized health entity such as a government agency or medical facility. The developers said Apple used similar policies to exclude or remove the ranking of other apps for anti-competitive reasons.

Coronavirus Reporter and its co-plaintiffs have requested a preliminary injunction that would temporarily prevent Apple from keeping certain apps out of its App Store and charging developers a $ 99 per year app store submission fee.

In a 34 page decision released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen dismissed the injunction motion as moot after dismissing the lawsuit. Chen found that the developers had failed to adequately identify a market in which Apple has monopoly control.

The developers described several markets in their complaint, including the “market for smartphones”, the “market for institutional iOS applications” and the “national market for the distribution of smartphone applications”.

Chen concluded that these market definitions were unclear and “failed to pass the cap.” Chen wrote, “Complainants’ market definitions lack the identification of any well-argued claims that support the boundaries they seek to define. only participant. ”

The judge said the developers had not presented any facts that would justify an “extremely rare” finding that a single-brand market gives rise to an antitrust claim.

In addition, the judge compared the App Store to a newspaper that publishes advertisements. If a newspaper accepts some ads and refuses to print others, the rejected advertiser has not suffered antitrust prejudice. True antitrust harm would be more like a newspaper banning advertisers from preventing them from promoting a competing news service, he explained.

To learn more about this, read the full Press office of the courthouse Nicholas Iovino report.

A developer lawyer challenging Apple’s App Store policies called the decision “puzzling” and promised to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

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