Apple threatening developer retaliation with subpoenas, says app coalition

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has filed subpoenas demanding various communications from within the Coalition for App Fairness.
  • The coalition wants a judge to "quash" them, saying they have no connection to its work and could be used to retaliate against its members.

Apple has filed three subpoenas against the Coalition for App Fairness that request access to internal communications as part of the antitrust battles it is currently facing. The coalition wants a judge to "quash" them, however, saying that the communications could be used to retaliate against its members.

First reported by AppleInsider, a filing with the US District Court for the District of Columbia from earlier this month hopes to prevent Apple from executing on its subpoenas. Apple wants to see all kinds of things including meeting minutes, financing, member lists, and more.

According to the coalition, handing the documents over to Apple could "chill the candor" of its members going forward, hampering its work. It's also worried that Apple's access to the documents could "expose [members] to retaliation given Apple's ability to control access" to the App Store.

Members of the coalition include many companies that have been vocal in their distrust for Apple and its App Store policies. Epic Games, Tile, and Spotify are just some of those likely to be involved in documents that could potentially end up in the hands of Apple.

As the coalition points out, it has nothing to do with the antitrust battles Apple currently faces.

Yet Apple has made intrusive demands for documents and communications with not even the slightest connection to that issue, such as the Coalition's internal governance documents, financial support, public-relations strategy, and vast amounts of confidential communications between and among Coalition staff, members, and others. The true purpose of Apple's discovery requests should be obvious: the company is seeking to punish its political opponents by prying into their confidential communications through burdensome and intrusive discovery.

If Apple is indeed on a fishing expedition. it's easy to see why it would want to go that route. But the coalition says that its communications are "irrelevant to the claims and defenses in the antitrust cases," a point that might well be true.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.