Apple on the radar of GESTE and French publishers

French publishers are challenging Apple in its home country. On Monday, August 1, 2022, the French media outlets Le Figaro and L’Equipe, as well as other mobile apps, filed a complaint against the Apple brand, accusing it of exercising a monopoly on app distribution on the iPhone.

Apple has a “deliberate, anti-competitive and unjustified monopoly,” according to French newspapers affiliated with GESTE, an association that represents publishers of content and online services. In this fight, they are joined by iOS developers from France.

The class action lawsuit was filed earlier this week in California federal court. Hagens Berman represents plaintiffs in the United States. It’s the same firm that recently won a $100 million lawsuit against Apple over the App Store’s anticompetitive policies.

“Our firm is pleased to see that iOS developers in other countries are demanding the same fairness that we have been able to achieve for US developers. We believe they have also been unfairly subjected to Apple’s App Store chokehold policies and we intend to comply with Apple’s law,” the firm said in a statement.

“We will leave no room for impunity”

Representatives of GESTE also responded with a press release to this collective action. “GESTE and its members are indeed at the forefront of several initiatives and are fighting for a more balanced and fair functioning of the digital world in France and Europe. By its nature and scale, today’s actions demonstrate our determination to achieve such change and redress,” said Bertrand Gy, President of GESTE and Head of Digital at Le Figaro, and Emmanuel Alix, Vice President of GESTE and Head of Digital at L. “Equip.

“Apple’s policies and restrictions create problems for all iOS developers using the App Store. A global problem must have a global solution. I believe we can build strong bridges to develop effective action because we will leave no room for impunity,” said Fairuz Masmi-Dazi, a GESTE lawyer in France specializing in competition law.

In the lawsuit against Apple, the company is accused of inflating the prices of anti-competitive practices in relation to its App Store features and in-app purchase services, and also aims to represent the interests of French iOS developers who received commissions from Apple.

Apple charges a default commission of 30% on paid sales of apps and digital products within apps made on the App Store and on iOS apps purchased from the App Store. Apple also requires developers to pay it an annual fee if they want their apps and in-app products to be considered by Apple for distribution in the App Store, the plaintiffs said. They note that “this is especially harmful for small and new developers.”

600 million users per week

Earlier this year, Apple reported that the App Store has generated more than $260 billion for developers since it launched in 2008. More than 600 million people use the App Store every week in 175 countries.

Faced with dissatisfaction from developers who feel they have been left behind by Cupertino, Apple has updated its App Store review guidelines to take into account a deal it struck in late August with US developers.

Under this agreement, Apple allows developers to use means of communication, such as email, to exchange information about payment methods outside of their iOS apps, alternative methods, thus avoiding paying a fee to the Cupertino giant. These changes are intended to create a fairer system for developers whose income depends on Apple platforms. The settlement allowed Apple to respond to its “anti-management” allegations and end a two-year class-action lawsuit filed by approximately 67,000 developers.

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