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Apple Seeks to Alter Court Ruling in China, Highlighting Market Dominance

 |  July 3, 2024

Apple is making an unusual legal move in China, seeking to amend a court ruling in a lawsuit that the tech giant had previously won.

Apple Files Petition for Court Ruling Tweaks

According to Bloomberg, Apple has petitioned the Supreme People’s Court of China to make specific changes to a ruling that ended a dispute regarding the company’s share of app revenue from developers. The iPhone maker is particularly focused on removing references to its “dominant position” in the market from the decision. The initial ruling by a lower court in May dismissed the lawsuit due to insufficient evidence but included language that Apple fears could impact its standing in future cases. Additionally, Apple objects to the court’s mention of “unfair pricing [that] may hurt consumers,” which the company feels could be detrimental.

Apple’s concern: the portrayal of its market dominance in an official court document could be leveraged in other legal challenges or regulatory scrutiny. The debate centers on the commission fees Apple charges developers for app store hosting. In China, these fees can be as high as 50% for popular Android games, compared to a typical 30% elsewhere globally.

Read more: Apple Denies EU Competition Law Violation Ahead of Fine Decision

Navigating a Competitive and Regulatory Landscape

This legal maneuver highlights Apple’s cautious approach in China, where it faces fierce competition from domestic giants like Huawei Technologies Co. and navigates a complex regulatory environment. China is not only Apple’s largest international market, but also its primary production hub. Recently, Apple has been contending with a resurgent Huawei and potential bans on foreign devices in Chinese state firms and agencies.

Globally, Apple and Google are under intense scrutiny from regulators regarding their app store policies. Apple has been defending its fee structure, arguing that the commissions are justified by the security and benefits the app store provides both to users and developers. This defense is part of broader legal battles in the U.S., Europe, South Korea and Japan.

In May, a Shanghai court dismissed a lawsuit that accused Apple of abusing its market position through its 30% commission on in-app purchases and restrictive payment methods. The court found the evidence insufficient to support the claim of abuse. However, the language used in the ruling has prompted Apple to seek modifications to prevent any future legal and regulatory repercussions.

Source: Bloomberg