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Apple Challenges Attorneys’ Fees In Developer Settlement

 |  March 2, 2022

In a court filing submitted on Monday, Apple Inc. challenged a plaintiff counsel’s request for 30.5% of the $100 million settlement awarded to a group of software developers, as compensation for both expenses and legal fees. Apple argues that the expenses and service awards are reasonable, but the request for 27% attorneys’ fees may be too high based on the standards applied in the Ninth Circuit and in the Northern District of California.

The case dates back to 2019, when mobile app developers sued Apple for antitrust violations, contending that the company acquired and maintained monopoly power by refusing to allow iOS device users to purchase iOS apps and in-app products other than through its own App Store.

The parties reached a settlement during the class certification briefing and presented it to the court in August. In November, the court granted preliminary approval of the settlement. Apple has continued to battle other developers and authorities over the terms it offers to developers who wish to offer their products on Apple’s IOS App Store.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers opined that the agreement, which provides for both monetary relief and “structural changes that will benefit all developers worldwide for at least three years after final approval” was fair.

The court reminded plaintiffs’ counsel that a 33% award was atypical in such cases and “any request for the same will need to be accompanied by detailed time records.”

Apple responded to the motion for attorneys’ fees by acknowledging that “[c]lass counsel are entitled to be paid for their efforts in litigating this action. The question is how much.” The thrust of the company’s argument centered on both the benefit for the developer class, as well as Ninth Circuit precedent dictating that “class counsel should be awarded 25 percent of the ascertainable value of a settlement as attorney’s fees.”

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