Apple must respond to Cydia’s antitrust lawsuit

Apple has a few weeks to respond to a re-complaint from an alternative iPhone app store. Apple’s attempt to dismiss a corrected antitrust lawsuit filed by the creator of the Cydia store failed. California District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected Apple’s motion to close the case Thursday and gave the company 21 days to respond to Cydia’s re-appeal.

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Cydia developer Jay Freeman (known as Saurik) first filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2020. The complaint alleges that Apple “illegally acquired and maintained monopoly power” in the distribution and payment of iOS applications, ultimately depriving alternative app stores of the ability to compete with the App Store.

Cydia appeared before Apple launched its own App Store. The first generations of iPhones were very limited – they could not even change the wallpaper. In Cydia, users could find applications that extend the functionality of “apple” smartphones. Apple has fought against such opportunities for years and Freeman closed the Cydia store in 2018.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers is the same judge who made the mixed decision in the Epic lawsuit against Apple. He closed the case in January, arguing that Freeman’s claims were beyond the four-year statute of limitations for antitrust lawsuits. Gonzalez Rogers still gave Freeman the opportunity to amend the complaint, which he did.

The new complaint alleges that between 2018 and 2021, Apple introduced “more aggressive” changes to iOS that prevented Cydia and other alternative app stores from providing iPhone apps.

Apple tried to close the re-appeal on the grounds that the charges were out of date, but Gonzalez Roger rejected the motion for dismissal.

In 2020, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple after removing Fortnite from the App Store. Apple removed Fornite for offering an alternative payment option, allowing Epic to bypass up to 30 percent of Apple’s commission for each in-app purchase. Around the same time, Epic filed a similar lawsuit against Google, which is due to be considered in 2023.

In addition to application developers, Apple inspected government agencies. While the Netherlands has imposed a number of fines on the company for banning Dutch dating apps from using their own payment systems. South Korea has passed a law requiring Apple and Google to allow developers to include third-party payment processors.

The US and the EU are also working to stifle the power of big tech companies, as the EU intends to pass the Digital Markets Act next year and the US is promoting the Open Markets Act to boost competition in mobile gadgets.

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