Consumer-Rights Attorney Who Fought Apple in $100 Million U.S. iOS App Developer Lawsuit Moves Battle to the Netherlands for Dutch Consumers and Devs selling apps in NL app stores
AMSTERDAM – Steve W. Berman, managing director of Hagens Berman EMEA and the U.S. class-action attorney who finalized a $100 million settlement on behalf of U.S. iOS developers against Apple in August 2021 is assisting the Stichting Right to Consumer Justice, a newly established consumer-rights foundation dedicated to bringing justice to Dutch citizens, in taking on the tech giant for the same antitrust scheme abroad.
The foundation’s claims mirror the successful U.S. case and accuse Apple of monopolizing the iOS market via its Dutch App Store, leaving developers subject to inflated commissions for any sales in the App Store, unfair control of the iOS ecosystem, mandatory use of the Apple payment system, self-preferencing by Apple with regard to its own apps and other anticompetitive behavior that stifled developers’ rights and innovation. According to the foundation, this stifling ecosystem also harmed Dutch consumers by having to pay more for apps and in-app products.
The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation officially filed its Letter Before Claim against Apple regarding its antitrust violations of its App Store in May of 2021, making it the first to take legal action in the Netherlands regarding the issue. Apple has yet to reply to the foundation’s letter, but does not seem intent on discussing a settlement yet.
Dutch citizens who have purchased apps or in-app products via the Dutch App Store, as well as developers, whether Dutch or international, who have developed iOS apps or in-app products sold through Apple’s Dutch App Store are encouraged by the Right to Consumer Justice Foundation to sign up to join the action against Apple.
“The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation took action against Apple to bring claims on behalf of Dutch consumers as well as app developers with the same rigor as was delivered against it in the U.S. case,” said Christoph Jeloschek, the lead lawyer for the foundation in The Netherlands. “We eagerly await Apple’s reply to our writ of summons from 4 October 2021 and welcome the opportunity to bring justice to the many developers who have been subjected to Apple’s antitrust constraints on the iOS app market and in-app sales in the Dutch App Store, and the Dutch consumers who have overpaid for those very creations.”
The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation was established in 2021 to protect and defend the interests of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices in the EU. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the foundation seeks fairness and honesty.
The Dutch Developers’ Case vs. Apple
The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation believes that Apple has bullied its way to market dominance in the distribution of iOS apps and in-app products and that Apple has abused its power in numerous ways, including:
- charging developers a default 30% commission on the sale of iOS apps and in-app products from the Dutch App Store (compared to as little as 10% and 12% per transaction in its Windows counterpart ecosystem),
- thus inflating the price for iOS apps and in-app products for Dutch consumers,
- forcing the developers to use Apple’s own payment system despite the availability of other, cheaper alternatives, and
- self-preferencing Apple’s own apps by, for instance, making competing apps more difficult to find or limiting their functionalities, , among other antitrust behaviors that stifle competition.
According to the foundation, Apple has profited massively off these inflated commissions and other abusive conduct in breach of EU competition law, and the Right to Consumer Justice Foundation seeks to compel Apple to compensate developers and consumers damaged by Apple’s anticompetitive conduct.
“Our foundation has the support of the same legal team who analysed large quantities of documents, Apple’s transactional data, and heard Apple’s senior management as witness, including CEO Tim Cook,” Jeloschek said. “Leveraging Hagens Berman’s experience and track-record, we believe our foundation is best positioned to represent the interest of aggrieved iOS developers and consumers in the Netherlands, and was also the first to bring claims against Apple for this wrongdoing.”
Berman, who has successfully taken Apple to court for multiple antitrust violations, is on the supervisory board of the Right to Consumer Justice Foundation, and looks to bring the same success to Dutch consumers and app developers selling on the Dutch App Store. His firm, Hagens Berman was appointed by the court to lead the U.S. case in 2019, bringing the U.S. developer antitrust case to a swift resolution in August 2021.
Berman also settled antitrust claims against Apple and various publishing companies in 2016 that settled for a total $560 million on behalf of purchasers of e-books who had been forced to pay artificially high prices due to Apple and the publishing companies' price-fixing. In that case, Berman took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where Apple lost.
Berman’s firm also recently settled another consumer protection lawsuit against Apple for consumers, winning a $97 million settlement regarding Apple’s warranty program AppleCare. In that matter, the law firm showed that Apple had failed to honor its promises to consumers under AppleCare by replacing devices with inferior, refurbished or used parts, despite the promises of its warranty program.
Christoph Jeloschek and Steve Berman are available for interviews and can be reached at [email protected].
About The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation
The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation is committed to assisting Dutch citizens with access to justice with regard to consumer products. We are here as a resource to inform those who have purchased or leased defective products of their rights. The Right to Consumer Justice Foundation strives to hold corporate violators to account. See righttoconsumerjustice.nl for further details.
The foundation supports the mission of bringing access to justice to Dutch consumers and developers of Apple iOS applications and in-app digital products. Join us in this collective action so that Apple’s antitrust behavior is properly reprimanded.
Ashley Klann [email protected]