App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • German app developer and founder of FOSS Patents Florian Mueller has filed an antitrust suit against Apple.
  • Mueller has lodged complaints with the EU, DoJ, and bodies in the Netherlands, UK, and Australia.
  • Mueller says rules in both Apple and Google's App Stores are holding back innovation.

German app developer and founder of patent litigation blog FOSS patents, Florian Mueller, has filed antitrust complaints against Apple in several countries after a game he submitted to the App Store was rejected.

As reported by Reuters:

A German app developer has filed a complaint with European Union antitrust authorities against Google and Apple which he said last year rejected a game aimed at encouraging compliance with government COVID-19 rules... The latest complaint filed with the European Commission came this week from the German app developer Florian Mueller, who is also a lobbyist and blogger and once led a successful campaign against a piece of EU legislation. Mueller has filed a similar complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and antitrust watchdogs in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and Australia. He is also planning to file another in India next week.

Mueller, who has previously interviewed with iMore as an antitrust expert, says that rules set by Apple (and Google) are holding back innovation and breach EU regulation.

Mueller submitted a game titled 'Corona Control' in November but was rejected on the grounds that Apple and Google both state any COVID-19 app must be government approved to prevent conflicting information or incorrect health advice. From the report:

Mueller says the app rules set by the two U.S. tech giants are holding back innovation, in breach of EU regulation, after both companies rejected his Corona Control Game app in November.

Google and Apple rules say COVID-19 related apps must be government approved in order to avoid promoting conflicting or incorrect health advice.

In the complaint, Mueller writes; "The stated goal of 'ensuring the credibility of health and safety information' does not justify blanket rules based on authorship or merely the combination of a broad category and a topic".

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Mueller rebranded the game as 'Viral Days' and got approval from both Apple and Google in December. The game is a real-time strategy game that demonstrates in real-time how a virus can spread from one person to another, and demonstrates the benefits of masks, social distancing, quarantining, and temporary lockdown, in a bid to help develop a more positive attitude towards such measures.

In a FOSS Patents report Friday, Mueller came out in full support of Epic Games antitrust fight, having provided in depth-commentary on the matter since the lawsuit was filed. From that post:

After almost six months of commenting on App Store antitrust cases, above all Epic Games v. Apple, the time has come for me to state clearly that, just like Epic, I am convinced that Apple and Google have monopoly power in their respective app distribution markets. And while the focus varies from app maker to app maker, I, too, have experienced and continue to experience abusive conduct by both... I'm not saying I necessarily agree with Epic on each and every aspect of its cases (though I may when the cases go to trial), and I'm particularly not taking a position on the 30% cut yet. But there's one thing I can say at this stage: I definitely concur with Epic's definition of app distribution markets and its assertion that Apple and Google possess monopoly power in those markets.