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Judge Grants Class Action Status to Apple Customers in Monopoly Lawsuit

 |  February 4, 2024

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted tens of millions of Apple customers the right to pursue a class-action lawsuit, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the iPhone app market through its exclusive App Store policies. The decision comes after a previous denial in March 2022 when the judge refused to certify a class action.

Initially rejecting the class certification, Judge Rogers revisited the decision after the class was narrowed down to include only Apple account holders who had spent $10 or more on app or in-app content.

According to Reuters, this narrowed class definition aimed to address concerns and focus on those who may have experienced harm due to Apple’s practices. Despite remaining “concerned” about the potential inclusion of more than 10 million accounts that may not have suffered harm, Judge Rogers emphasized that this number could be further reduced, and there was no fixed “cutoff” for denying certification.

Judge Rogers also dismissed Apple’s attempt to exclude testimony from two expert witnesses, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel McFadden. These experts provided insights into how Apple’s practices may have adversely affected consumers. The court rejected Apple’s argument that the testimony was unreliable, paving the way for a more comprehensive examination of the allegations.

Read more: Apple to Adjust App Store Policies to Comply with EU Digital Markets Act

Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the latest developments in the long-standing antitrust case, which has spanned over 12 years.

Mark Rifkin, the lawyer representing the consumers, expressed his satisfaction with the decision, stating, “I am extremely pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to the next phase of this 12-year-old antitrust case.” Rifkin estimated that the class, which now includes account holders who spent $10 or more on app or in-app content, incurred “billions of dollars in damages.”

The class-action lawsuit alleges that Apple’s restrictive App Store policies, which prohibit purchases outside the platform, have led to a monopoly in the market, resulting in higher prices for consumers. As the case advances, it is poised to be a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate over the tech industry’s control and influence on digital marketplaces.

Source: Reuters