Apple blocks class action status in user app store fee suit

Apple Inc. banned. Antitrust lawsuit over App Store fees brought by a few iPhone users from expanding to millions of customers across the United States.

A federal judge in Oakland, California, on Tuesday refused to allow the case to be pursued on behalf of users who have nearly 400 million Apple accounts in the United States who purchased virtual apps and goods from the App Store.

The judge allowed the plaintiffs to review and redraft their application. But if her ruling continues, a decade-old case likely to expose the iPhone maker to billions of dollars in damages will be taken down.

Mark Rifkin, an attorney representing consumers, said plaintiffs “fully expect” a judge to award class certification in the future. “While we are disappointed that the court has not yet conferred a college degree, the court has given us a clear roadmap to follow when we renew the lawsuit.”

The class action case will give consumers significant leverage to settle their challenge to the lucrative app store business, which analysts say brings in more than $20 billion annually with a profit margin of more than 75%.

Consumer attorneys said at a hearing in November that potential classroom damages would range from $7 billion to $10 billion.

Apple is also fighting Epic Games Inc. on app store fees and faces scrutiny from global regulators who are examining the tech giant’s strength as a gatekeeper to the digital economy.

The consumer case is in the Apple iPhone Antitrust Litigation case, 11-cv-06714, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).


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