Judge Approves Apple's $100M Settlement in Developer Lawsuit, But Questions $27M Attorney Fee

Back in August 2021, Apple agreed to pay $100 million and make changes to the App Store to settle a class-action lawsuit brought against it by developers. Judge Yvonne-Gonzalez Rogers, who is overseeing the case, said yesterday that she plans to approve the settlement, but she raised concerns about the amount that attorneys are planning to charge.

iOS App Store General Feature Clorange
As outlined by Law360, Rogers said that she wants more data on the "math" behind the $27 million attorney fee requested, and how much that fee will reduce claims by small developers. She asked for a mathematical breakdown of how much less each class member would receive if she awarded $25 million in attorney fees instead of $27 million.

Rogers said that for some developers, the difference could be significant, which is why she wants to "see the numbers." Apple back in March pointed out that the $27 million fee is higher than the 25 percent benchmark set by the Ninth Circuit Court.

Apple is calling the settlement the Small Developer Assistance Fund, and it began accepting developer claims in January. Developers had until May 20 to submit a claim through the website, and Apple provided several reminders. Developers were able to claim between $250 and $30,000 based on their historic ‌App Store‌ participation.

There were approximately 67,000 eligible developers. Developers who earned less than $100 will receive the minimum payment of $250, while those who earned more than $1 million will be entitled to a higher-end payment. Minimum payments are subject to change based on the number of total claims.

The settlement stems from a 2019 lawsuit where group of iOS developers accused Apple of using its ‌App Store‌ monopoly to impose "profit-killing" commissions. The developers were unhappy with Apple's 30 percent cut of ‌App Store‌ sales, an issue that was addressed with the App Store Small Business Program that dropped the commission that small developers have to pay to 15 percent.

In addition to paying a $100 settlement fee, Apple agreed to allow developers to use communications like email to share information about payment methods available outside of the ‌App Store‌, plus Apple expanded the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions.

Apple also pledged to maintain the ‌‌App Store‌‌ Small Business Program and ‌‌App Store‌‌ search, making no changes for at least three years, with the company also creating an annual transparency report based on ‌‌App Store‌‌ data covering app rejections, apps removed from the ‌‌App Store‌‌, search information, and more.

The Small Developer Assistance Fund website says that it plans to distribute funds to developers who submitted a "timely and valid claim" as soon as possible.

(Thanks, Yashar!)

Top Rated Comments

Karma*Police Avatar
25 weeks ago
Ah, lawyers who got promoted pretending to not side with the lawyers by asking if their fees should be reduced from $27mm to $25mm.

So the devs who signed an agreement with Apple to give them a 30% cut turns around and sues Apple because they took a 30% cut?

And the lawyers are taking a 27% cut… does no one see the irony and hypocrisy in all of this? Truly a clown world we’re living in.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
turbineseaplane Avatar
25 weeks ago

Ffs America is so dumb you can sue anyone or company for any reason
It was a class action suit and Apple agreed to a settlement

Not sure why you're reacting this way

It wasn't just "one developer upset" or anything
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jav6454 Avatar
25 weeks ago
Some lawyers truly want the good while others act always as blood sucking leeches. This case is the about the later and judge knows it and called them out on such a high commission.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
frenchcamp49er Avatar
25 weeks ago

Ffs America is so dumb you can sue anyone or company for any reason
Like the countries that fine American tech companies and force standards on them?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
syklee26 Avatar
25 weeks ago
Great job, judge! 30+ % on contingency fee structure is ridiculous. This case probably did not take that much effort for plaintiff’s attorneys, either, considering it didn’t even get to real litigation stage to begin with.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
developer13245 Avatar
25 weeks ago

I missed the claim date by 3 days, still emailed them my claim but never heard a response.

The whole processes was such BS that if you miss the date you can never sue or have access to claims. The lawyers were supposed to be working for us but instead of automatically becoming eligible like every other class action they made a weird process where you had to opt in.

Honestly I thought it was a scam so ignored the letter they sent and then didn’t realize until I started reading articles about it.
By doing absolutely nothing, you took an affirmative action and state:
"expressly release any claim, contention, argument, or theory that the commissions charged by Apple on paid downloads or in-app purchases of digital content (including subscription) through the App Store are supracompetitive, inflated, or otherwise set at unlawful amounts."

Congratulations. If you ever complain or even theorize about such things, Apple can now sue you for breech.

Apple had the right to dump the settlement if more than 10% of developers choose to exclude themselves from the class. Yet doing nothing put you in the class. This is the biggest sign that Apple wanted to eliminate the number of developers who can complain in the future. It's really a muzzle in disguise.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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