Apple is competing through its mobile app store, the attorneys general of 34 US states and the District of Columbia said Thursday, as they appealed against a ruling that would allow the iPhone maker to continue with some restrictive practices.
While dozens of state attorneys general have filed antitrust lawsuits recently against other big tech companies, including Facebook owner Meta Platform and Alphabet’s Google, none had targeted Apple so far.
Thursday’s remarks, led by the state of Utah and joined by Colorado, Indiana, Texas and others, came in an appeals court lawsuit between Fortnite video game maker Epic Games and Apple over App Store fees and payment tools.
“Apple’s conduct has caused harm and harm to mobile app-developers and millions of citizens,” the states said.
“Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhone units, undercut competition, and generate supercompetitive profits within the nearly trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry.”
The action comes after a US district judge in Oakland, California, mostly ruled against Epic last year.
That decision found that the 15 percent to 30 percent commission that Apple charges some app makers for their use of the in-app payment system the company forced on them did not violate antitrust law.
Epic challenged this decision in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. On Thursday, professors, activist groups and states weighed in through court filings that described the legal arguments in support.
Apple’s reply is expected in March. On Thursday, the company said it is optimistic that Epic’s challenge will fail.
The states said in their filings that the lower court failed to adequately balance the pros and cons of Apple’s rules and also ruled that a major antitrust law does not apply to non-negotiable contracts Apple developers signed. does.
“Paradoxically, firms with sufficient market power to enforce unilateral contracts would be protected from antitrust scrutiny – precisely those firms whose activities give the most cause for antitrust concern,” he said.
© Thomson Reuters 2022