Apple’s app store challenged in court by the French state

This Friday, September 23, the Ministry of Economy and Apple met before the Commercial Court of Paris. The issue is the amount of 30% of the commissions charged by Apple in its application market and its practices towards developers.

“Would you let me use my computer? Because I put a lot of data on it, and it’s an Apple, so I don’t want to be blamed for that.” The commercial judge was joking this Friday, September 23. On the left, benches well equipped with robes to defend. On the right, two representatives of the Ministry of Economy. In the center the place of the Apple store and especially the practices and commissions charged by the apple firm in each transaction made on this platform. After 3 hours of debate, eminently technical, the debate can be simplified. Can Apple impose a fee at will on developers to market their apps? Or is it an obligation that creates a significant imbalance to the detriment of the French promoter? The contracts in question date from 2015 and 2016.

For the representative of the Ministry of Economy, with “the exclusive acceptance of the Apple payment system, a developer is stuck and can no longer get out of it. Apple imposes the 30% commission on the developer, and therefore in fine to the end user. This is what was reproached”.

For Apple’s defenders, the measure taken by the Ministry of the Economy, following an investigation by the DGCCRF in 2015, cannot be applied because it does not define what a developer is in the French market, who would suffer from Apple’s unbalanced business practices. “It is a totally abstract action, while the legal article that we intend to apply is eminently concrete.” Apple’s lawyer cannot resist the gluttony of pointing out that “the Ministry of Economy is also a developer in the app store currently with Impôt.gouv”

2 million fine claimed

The State demands a fine of 2 million euros against Apple, as well as the registration of this decision at the top of the application store and on the site of the Californian giant in France. “This reflects Apple’s place in the economic sector, as it is the second largest developer.[…]

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