UK Class Action Accuses Apple of Breaking Competition Law by Overcharging for Apps

A new legal case filed with the U.K.'s Competition Appeal Tribunal has accused Apple of breaching competition law by overcharging nearly 20 million customers for App Store purchases.

app store blue banner uk
The collective action case alleges Apple's 30% commission on app sales and consumers' forced use of its own payment processing system generates "unlawfully excessive levels of profit," and calls for the company to compensate iPhone and iPad users in the U.K. for years of alleged overcharging, with damages of up to £1.5 billion being sought.

The collective action has been brought by Dr Rachael Kent, an expert in the digital economy and a lecturer at King's College, London, who claims that because the ‌App Store‌ is the only way to get apps on to an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌, it is acting like a monopoly.

"The App Store was a brilliant gateway for a range of interesting and innovative services that millions of us find useful, myself included," she said. "But 13 years after its launch, it has become the only gateway for millions of consumers.

"Apple guards access to the world of apps jealously, and charges entry and usage fees that are completely unjustified. This is the behavior of a monopolist and is unacceptable."

In opt-out cases such as this, the claim can be brought on behalf of a defined group, and aggregate damages awarded to the group, without the need to identify all the individual claimants and specify their losses. Claimants within a class are automatically included in an action unless they take specific steps to opt-out.

On this basis, anyone in the U.K. who has bought paid apps, paid subscriptions, or other in-app purchases on an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ since October 2015 is included in the claim. The rest of the team behind the case includes law firm Hausfeld and Co and Vannin Capital. However, the collective action needs to be approved by the tribunal before proceeding.

Apple in a statement called the lawsuit "meritless."

"We believe this lawsuit is meritless and welcome the opportunity to discuss with the court our unwavering commitment to consumers and the many benefits the App Store has delivered to the UK's innovation economy," Apple said. "The commission charged by the App Store is very much in the mainstream of those charged by all other digital marketplaces. In fact, 84% of apps on the App Store are free and developers pay Apple nothing. And for the vast majority of developers who do pay Apple a commission because they are selling a digital good or service, they are eligible for a commission rate of 15%."

The case echoes similar allegations made in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, in which Epic alleges that the ‌App Store‌ and associated developer commission rates are anti-competitive and monopolistic.

In April, Apple was also charged by the European Commission with abusing its dominant position in the music streaming market with regard to ‌App Store‌ rules on in-app payments. The charges followed a complaint by rival streaming service Spotify.

Top Rated Comments

djcerla Avatar
10 months ago
30% is industry standard, and Apple has a minority share of phones in the UK. Hardly a "monopoly".

These actions will end up ruining the iOS experience for consumers, which is at present far superior compared to the competitor's.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Spinn_ Avatar
10 months ago
Class action lawsuits like this one are a total joke and usually just a way to enrich the lawyers.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hermes Monster Avatar
10 months ago
As a Brit, this fills me with absolute cringe. It’s nothing more than a cash grab, and I hope it gets shot down in flames
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
markfc Avatar
10 months ago
Embarrassed I live in the UK with this one.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Spinn_ Avatar
10 months ago

These actions will end up ruining the iOS experience for consumers, which is at present leaps and bounds superior to the competition's.
Exactly! If efforts like this succeed I think someone should start a class action lawsuit against these people for ruining the ecosystem Apple users paid for. If I wanted Android I would have paid for an Android device. I bought my iPhone knowing full well what I was getting.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kierkegaarden Avatar
10 months ago
Wow. Is a 30% sales commission really considered an “unlawfully excessive amount of profit” in the UK? What is a lawful amount of profit?

And how exactly did Apple overcharge? Doesn’t the developer set the price?

Sounds like a lawyer that just wants publicity, at any cost.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

app store review scam

App Store Scam App Required a Good Review to Function at All

Wednesday May 26, 2021 7:21 am PDT by
An app that demanded at least a three-star review to function got through the App Store review process, it has been found (via The Verge). iOS developer Kosta Eleftheriou discovered that the "UPNP Xtreme" app, which claimed to let users stream video to a TV, presented the system's App Store rating box as soon as it opened. The rating box could not be escaped from and it was not possible to...
app store blue banner russia

Apple Fined $12 Million in Russia for Violating Anti-Monopoly Rules With App Store

Tuesday April 27, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) has levied a $12 million fine against Apple for alleged abuse of its dominance in the mobile applications market, reports Reuters. According to the FAS, Apple's distribution of apps through iOS gives its products a competitive advantage. Apple has been charged 906.3 million roubles, equivalent to $12.1 million. The fine stems from an August...
European Commisssion

EU Likely to Charge Apple With Anti-Competitive Behavior This Week

Tuesday April 27, 2021 2:06 am PDT by
The European Commission will this week bring charges against Apple over concerns that its App Store rules break EU competition law, reports the Financial Times. The charges relate to a two-year-old antitrust dispute with Spotify. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition chief, will late this week publicly issue charges against Apple over concerns that the rules it sets for developers on its...
app store blue banner

Judge Grills Tim Cook on App Store Policies as End of of Epic Games v. Apple Trial Approaches

Friday May 21, 2021 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in the Epic Games v. Apple trial today, and some of the final questioning by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers did not appear to go in Apple's favor. She spent several minutes grilling Cook on Apple's App Store policies and some of the statements that he made. "You said you want to give users control, so what's the problem with allowing users to have a cheaper option...
app store blue banner

Apple Hit With Lawsuit From App Store Developer Over Copycat Apps

Thursday March 18, 2021 6:17 am PDT by
App developer Kosta Eleftheriou, who highlighted the problem of scam and copycat apps on the App Store last month, is now suing Apple for a variety of allegations, including negligence and anticompetitive conduct (via The Verge). Eleftheriou's complaint, filed against Apple in Santa Clara County, California, accuses the company of exploiting its control over iOS apps "to make billions of...
app store blue banner uk fixed

UK Antitrust Watchdog to Investigate Apple's App Store Policies [Updated]

Thursday March 4, 2021 2:53 am PST by
Today the United Kingdom's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) launched an official investigation into the distribution of apps on iOS and iPadOS devices in the U.K. and the terms and conditions governing the platform. In September of last year, the authority launched an initial inquiry into developers' complaints about Apple's App Store and so-called "anti-competitive" practices. CMA...
app store safe secure

Study Finds Up to 2% of Top 1,000 Paid Apps on App Store Were Scams

Monday June 7, 2021 6:33 am PDT by
Apple has used its app review process as a bulwark in recent legal assaults on its App Store policy, and put particular emphasis on the security benefits for iOS users when buying apps. However, an investigation has found that almost 2% of the top 1,000 highest grossing apps on a given day were some sort of scam. According to The Washington Post, which conducted the investigation, scam apps...
app store blue banner

App Store Ecosystem Responsible for Estimated $643 Billion in Billings and Sales in 2020, According to Apple-Commissioned Study

Wednesday June 2, 2021 10:00 am PDT by
The App Store ecosystem facilitated an estimated $643 billion in billings and sales in 2020, an increase of 24 percent year-over-year, according to an Apple-commissioned study done by Analysis Group economists. [PDF] The study, "A Global Perspective on the Apple App Store Ecosystem," comes as Apple awaits a decision in its ongoing trial with Epic Games, much of which focused on App Store...

Popular Stories

intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...
iOS 15

Everything New in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Face ID With a Mask, Emojis, Apple Card Widget, Universal Control and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 12:08 pm PST by
Apple today seeded the first betas of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 to developers for testing purposes, adding a slew of new features to the latest iOS operating systems. iOS 15.4 is the biggest update that we've had to iOS 15 to date, and it brings Universal Control, Face ID with a mask, new emojis, and tons more. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone...
mobeewave

Upcoming iOS Update Will Allow iPhones to Accept Credit Cards Directly Using NFC

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:00 pm PST by
Apple is working on a new payments service that will allow iPhones to accept payments directly on device with no additional hardware, reports Bloomberg. Right now, iPhones can accept credit cards with add-ons like the Square Reader, but Apple's new technology will eliminate the need for a third-party product. Individuals and small businesses will be able to accept payments with the tap of a...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.2 With Safari Vulnerability Fix

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:19 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.2, the second major update to the macOS Monterey update that launched in October. macOS Monterey 12.2 comes over a month after the release of the 12.1 update, which brought SharePlay support. The ‌‌‌macOS Monterey 12.2‌‌ update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. Apple has also...