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UK Judge Rules App Developers’ Suit Against Apple Can Proceed

Apple

Apple lost its bid to have part of a lawsuit in the United Kingdom dismissed.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 1,500 U.K.-based app developers and alleged that Apple charged them unfair commissions on apps and other content purchased from the company’s App Store, Reuters reported Friday (April 12).

The lawyers for Sean Ennis, a competition law professor and economist who brought the case, told the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) that Apple abused its dominant position in distributing apps on its devices.

Apple argued that developers cannot have a claim against it in the U.K. unless they were charged fees on purchases made through its U.K. App Store.

In Friday’s ruling denying the company’s bid for dismissal, Judge Andrew Lenon wrote that Ennis’ lawyers have a realistic chance of establishing that Apple’s conduct affecting U.K.-based developers on non-U.K. stores amounts to conduct in the U.K.

The mass lawsuit targeting Apple, which was filed in 2023, is valued at up to 785 million pounds (about $1 billion).

When announcing the lawsuit in July, Ennis claimed that Apple’s commissions are “excessive” and are only possible due to the company’s monopoly on the distribution of apps onto iPhones and iPads.

“The charges are unfair in their own right and constitute abusive pricing,” Ennis added at the time. “They harm app developers and also app buyers.”

Apple countered that 85% of the developers on its App Store don’t pay a commission and that the company is helping European developers access countries and customers in 175 nations worldwide.

This is one of several legal challenges faced by the tech giant in the U.K. Another mass lawsuit over App Store commissions, brought on behalf of approximately 20 million U.K. users, was given the go-ahead in 2022 and is adding to Apple’s legal challenges.

Apple also faces legal challenges in the European Union. The company reversed course April 5 in a battle over music-streaming services, saying it has accepted demands by the EU that it stop blocking music apps from notifying listeners of cheaper services available outside the Apple App Store.