By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – Apple Inc was sued on Monday by French app developers that accused the iPhone maker of violating U.S. antitrust law by overcharging them to use its app store.
The plaintiffs in the proposed class action include Société du Figaro, which develops the Figaro news app; L’Équipe 24/24, which develops the L’Équipe sports news and streaming app, and Le Geste, an association of French content providers.
According to the complaint filed in the federal court in Oakland, California, Apple has abused its monopoly power over app distribution on iOS-based mobile devices by mandating only one app store for those devices.
The plaintiffs said this has enabled the Cupertino, California-based company to charge “supracompetitive” 30% commissions for 14 years, as well as $99 annual fees to app developers, while stifling innovation and consumer choice.
“There is no valid business necessity or pro-competitive justification for Apple’s conduct,” the complaint said. “Instead, Apple’s actions are designed to destroy competition.”
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Monday’s complaint seeks an injunction against further anticompetitive conduct, plus triple damages for violating federal antitrust law and California state laws.
The plaintiffs are represented by the U.S. law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, and Paris-based Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi.
Monday’s lawsuit resembles an earlier Hagens Berman case against Apple, which resulted last August in a $100 million settlement for smaller iOS developers that called Apple’s commissions excessive.
In June, the firm reached a $90 million settlement with Alphabet Inc’s Google over its app store’s treatment of developers.
The case is Société du Figaro et al v Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-04437.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)