Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Login
BROWSE
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Login
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Apple $100 Million App Store Antitrust Deal Gets Judge’s Nod (1)

June 13, 2022, 3:24 PMUpdated: June 13, 2022, 5:22 PM

Apple Inc. exited one of several major antitrust cases challenging its App Store payment policies, after a federal judge in Oakland, Calif., signed off on a $100 million class action settlement resolving a lawsuit brought by software developers.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers approved the agreement, which includes $26 million in legal fees and $3.5 million in court costs for the attorneys who led the case. Although the pact includes some nonmonetary terms, it doesn’t call for costly structural changes to the way the App Store is run.

The judge, writing June 10 for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, called the settlement “fair and reasonable.” She noted that the two sides reached a deal after a trial of parallel claims brought by Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc., but before a ruling in that case was handed down.

Rogers, who presided over the Epic-Apple trial, rejected the developer’s core antitrust claims but ruled for Epic on its unfair competition claim, ordering an expensive overhaul to the App Store’s payment policies. Both sides have appealed, with the iPhone maker calling the ruling “unlawful.”

The lawsuits on behalf of Epic and the developers—like a parallel consumer case—accused Apple of maintaining the dominance of its distribution platform partly by preventing developers from “steering” their customers toward payment methods that circumvent the App Store.

The allegations echo some of the broader antitrust challenges confronting Apple and other Silicon Valley giants that run dominant app platforms, including Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Valve Corp., which operates the Steam store for gaming.

Although the legal theories vary, the court cases generally involve allegations that Apple and the others deployed an array of illegal tactics to corner the app distribution market and the related market for in-app purchases.

Google is also facing a virtually identical suit by Epic, parallel proposed class actions, and similar claims by dating app developer Match Group Inc. The online search giant announced in March that it would start letting some apps bill customers directly, without going through its Play Store.

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is lead counsel for the developers. Apple is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is Cameron v. Apple Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 19-cv-3074, 6/10/22.

(Updates with additional context and background in paragraphs six through eight.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com