Apple hit with $2bn UK class action suit over App Store fees

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has been hit with a $2bn lawsuit in the UK.
  • A group representing consumers claims Apple charges "unlawful" and "excessive" fees through its App Store.
  • It could see some 20 million customers receive a payout.

A UK group has filed the equivalent of a class-action lawsuit against Apple in the UK, over claims its 30% App Store commission rate is "excessive" and "unlawful".

According to multiple reports, the group, led by King's College London digital-economy lecturer Dr. Rachael Kent, allege that Apple "guards access to the world of apps jealously", charging entry and user fees that were "completely unjustified", which group says "is the behavior of a monopolist and unacceptable".

The action could see some 20 million UK Apple customers receive compensation if it is approved and finds success, with damages estimated to be around £1.5bn ($2.1bn). Specifically, it would apply to anyone who has bought an app, paid for a subscription, or made an in-app purchase in the UK App Store since October 1, 2015. The group says that Apple deliberately shuts out the competition and requires users to go through its own payment-processing system generating "unlawfully excessive levels of profit."

In a statement Apple said "we believe this lawsuit is meritless", stating it welcomed the opportunity to discuss with the court its "unwavering commitment to consumers and the many benefits the App Store has delivered to the UK's innovation economy." Apple also noted that the App Store commission rate was "very much in the mainstream", as evidenced by recent testimony in the ongoing Epic Games lawsuit. Apple further noted 84% of apps on the App Store are free, with developers paying nothing to Apple, and that the "vast majority" of developers are eligible for its lower commission rate of 15% introduced with the App Store Small Business Program.

The action in many ways closely echoes the arguments of Epic Games regarding the App Store, currently being tested in its massive antitrust lawsuit against the Cupertino Company.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9