Apple's attempt to block iPhone app store monopoly class action rejected by US appeals court

The lawsuit, initially filed in 2011, alleges that Apple violated U.S. antitrust law by imposing strict controls on how customers download apps

Representational photo of the Apple logo (photo: IANS)
Representational photo of the Apple logo (photo: IANS)

NH Business Bureau

A U.S. appeals court has thwarted Apple's latest effort to prevent a class action lawsuit accusing it of monopolizing the market for iPhone apps.

According to a Reuters report, published by the Hindu online, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Apple's request for a pretrial appeal after a California federal judge had allowed consumers to pursue billions of dollars in alleged damages.

In February, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers certified a class of consumers who have spent $10 or more on Apple apps or in-app purchases since 2008. Originally filed in 2011, the lawsuit alleges that Apple violated U.S. antitrust law by imposing strict controls on how customers download apps, thereby keeping prices artificially high for tens of millions of users.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the recent decision. The appeals court panel denied Apple's appeal without a hearing, solidifying the lawsuit's progress towards a potential trial.

Mark Rifkin, an attorney representing the class, expressed satisfaction with the appeals court's decision. "Apple has left no stone unturned in this 17-year-old litigation, and it has been unsuccessful at every stage of the proceedings," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Apple had contended that Judge Rogers' order would unjustly allow over 10 million App Store accounts to be included in the case without proving harm to the account holders. In contrast, the plaintiffs' attorneys argued that Rogers applied previous rulings correctly in her decision to approve the class status.

In its defense, Apple cited a similar case involving Google, where the 9th Circuit had agreed to review a class action of 21 million consumers. However, no ruling was made in the Google case as the trial judge subsequently reversed his order approving the class action.

The Apple case, which could go to trial as early as 2026, is not the company's only antitrust challenge. In March, the U.S. Justice Department accused Apple of monopolising the smartphone market in a separate case filed in New Jersey federal court. Apple has denied these allegations and intends to seek dismissal of the lawsuit.

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