TECH

Long-running App Store monopoly lawsuit granted class action status

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An ongoing antitrust lawsuit has finally been granted class action status, accusing Apple of using its Store Monopoly app , keeping prices high.

The antitrust case against Apple, which had been going on in various forms for 12 years, has been stayed by a federal judge, who has cleared it for class-action status. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers declined to certify the lawsuit as a class action in 2022, but after its scope was narrowed, it has since been granted.

The lawsuit centers around Apple's alleged monopoly on iPhone apps and its rules that prohibit both the existence of third-party app stores and the ability to make purchases outside of the App Store itself. It is argued that these rules allowed Apple to control the monopoly by limiting consumer choice and, in turn, allowing prices to rise.

The change in the lawsuit that allowed Gonzalez Rogers to accept it as a class action was the number of Apple account holders it could affect, Reuters reports. The class now represents account holders who have spent $10 or more on apps and in-app content.

The judge remains concerned that the new, narrower class could have more than 10 million accounts that were not affected. However, Rogers added that the number of accounts could be further reduced, and there is no specific “cap” for denying certification altogether.

During the same hearing, Gonzalez rejected Apple's request to suppress testimony from two expert witnesses about potential harm to customers. Apple called the testimony, which included comments from Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel McFadden, unreliable.

Mark Rifkin, a lawyer representing consumers, was “extremely pleased” with the decision and the start of the next phase of a 12-year legal battle. Rifkin believes Apple could suffer “billions of dollars in damages.”

Regardless of how the case ultimately ends, the Apple rules targeted by the lawsuit are already changing in other countries around the world. With the introduction of the EU Digital Markets Act, Apple is forced to make changes to allow third-party app stores as well as third-party payment processing.

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