Developers are challenging the tech giants on its App Store decision-making.
Apple is facing a consolidated lawsuit brought by app developers claiming that the technology giant is restricting the release of free options in its App Store. The lawsuit contends Apple rejects certain free apps and purposely suppresses them.
The latest litigation builds upon a suit originally filed by the maker of the “Coronavirus Reporter” and a second company, Calid Inc. The amended complaint now includes the app developers of “Bitcoin Lottery,” “WebCaller,” and “Caller-ID” as well as the original plaintiffs. All are alleging Apple’s App Store is monopolistic and the company routinely and unfairly determines which apps will be made available and easily accessible on the platform.
“Bitcoin Lottery” was an app that sought to distribute free cryptocurrency in order to educate users on blockchain. However, Apple rejected it, and the developers said the decision equated to preventing “free, unrestricted commerce and information exchange on the internet.” Those backing Apple’s decision have argued that the App Store is not the open web, however, and therefore, they say the argument has little merit.
Another newly named plaintiff includes Dr. Jeffrey Isaacs, who created two separate apps, Caller-ID and WebCaller, has been fighting to get Apple’s approval of these for some time. The plaintiff claims his first app was “demoted after Dr. Isaacs told Apple that he held a patent on web caller ID,” according to court documents. He believed Whitepages was infringing on it. Isaacs also claims that Apple “took action against WebCaller because it competed with FaceTime.” The “Coronavirus Reporter” was allegedly denied because the app was not backed by a healthcare company and its “user-generated data has not been vetted for accuracy by a reputable source,” according to Apple.
Because Apple suppresses and denies apps, “the above Plaintiffs each endured conduct directed at them by Defendant Apple that caused loss of substantial years of their work,” their complaint reads. “Their five apps were blocked, or rank suppressed, causing them to lose valuable income.” It continues, “Apple, by breathtaking comparison, has secured its position as the wealthiest company in the world by committing all of those enumerated crimes under the guise of popularity and commitment to quality. There can be little doubt that Tim Cook sought to compensate for the tragic loss of Steve Jobs – and his gift for innovation – by seeking reckless profits on the heels of the success that Apple enjoyed with the iPhone.”
The lawsuit seeks an estimated $200 billion in damages with at least $14.2 billion for the lead plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are also asking for a permanent injunction preventing Apple from denying developers access to the App Store user base moving forward.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also recently appeared in a California court to address an anti-trust lawsuit over allegations brought by Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, that its App Store is an illegal monopoly. Rather than arguing Apple blocks or suppresses its game, Epic is accusing the tech giant of taking an excessive commission on each download.