Apple loses bid to appeal order allowing consumer antitrust class action

Apple has failed to persuade a U.S. appeals court to consider blocking a class action that accuses the iPhone maker of monopolizing the market for iPhone apps and keeping prices artificially high for tens of millions of customers.

Updated - May 29, 2024 10:44 am IST

Published - May 29, 2024 09:29 am IST

Apple loses bid to appeal order allowing consumer antitrust class action.

Apple loses bid to appeal order allowing consumer antitrust class action. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Apple has failed to persuade a U.S. appeals court to consider blocking a class action that accuses the iPhone maker of monopolizing the market for iPhone apps and keeping prices artificially high for tens of millions of customers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected Apple’s bid for a pretrial appeal after a California federal judge in February allowed consumers to band together to pursue billions of dollars in alleged damages.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers certified a class of consumers who spent $10 or more on Apple app or in-app purchases since 2008. The lawsuit, filed in 2011, accuses Apple of violating U.S. antitrust law by too tightly restraining how customers download apps.

Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday. The appeals court panel denied Apple’s appeal without a hearing.

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Mark Rifkin, an attorney for the class, welcomed the appeals court's order in a statement on Tuesday.

"Apple has left no stone unturned in this 17 year old litigation, and it has been unsuccessful at every stage of the proceedings," he said.

Apple had argued that Rogers order would unfairly allow at least 10 million App Store accounts to be included in the case without the plaintiffs having shown how the account-holders were allegedly harmed.

Lawyers for the Apple customers urged the 9th Circuit not to hear the case, asserting that Rogers “faithfully” applied prior rulings in her decision to approve class status.

Apple drew a parallel to a Google class-action of 21 million consumers that the 9th Circuit said last year it would review. But the appeals court never ruled in the Google case, after the trial judge said he would reverse his order approving the class action.

Both sides in the Apple case have suggested a possible trial window for 2026.

The U.S. Justice Department separately in March accused Apple in New Jersey federal court of monopolizing the smartphone market. Apple has denied the claims and said it will ask a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The case is In re Apple iPhone Antitrust Litigation, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 24-875.

For Apple: Theodore Boutrous Jr of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

For plaintiffs: David Frederick of Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick

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