An educational media company claiming that Apple Computer Inc. is using monopolistic behavior in its App Store filed a complaint on Monday in federal court in Bangor seeking class-action status.
Primary Productions LLC, a New Jersey company with one business officer in Maine, claimed the California computer and mobile phone giant is harming millions of independent software developers with what it called “anti-competitive business practices” in the App Store. The plaintiff alleges six antitrust law violations.
The company claims, among other things, that Apple underpays small software developers and favors its own software in rankings in the App Store. One example it cited is its own educational software for creating digital wallets that it tried unsuccessfully to sell to the App Store, claiming that Apple developed its own competitive app.
An Apple spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Primary Productions complaint.
The lawsuit comes after the U.S. House of Representatives issued a 450-page report last October summarizing its investigation of competition in digital markets by large tech companies including Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Apple has control over the iOS operating system on its devices and thus has a “monopoly power over distribution of software applications on iOS devices,” the report found. Apple charges a $99 annual fee to software developers to use the App Store and takes a commission on paid applications sold through the store.
The Primary Productions lawsuit contends that gives Apple the power to not accept some applications that might compete with its own software. The complaint says millions of small software developers could be affected, and damages could amount to at least $200 billion. Primary Productions is seeking $270 million in its claim of alleged “anticompetitive behavior” by Apple related to its app.
“The case revolves around the fact that Apple has developed this monopoly revolving around the App Store where they can deny or grant access to whoever they want,” Keith Mathews, the lawyer for Primary Productions, said. “It’s kind of arbitrary.”
Apple has been targeted with similar allegations in other lawsuits. A California class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of iOS software developers alleges Apple is using monopolistic practices because it allows only one App Store for iOS devices, so developers must sell through it.