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App Store: Russian competition watchdogs open antitrust proceedings against Apple

The Russian competition authority is launching further antitrust proceedings against Apple: The group is abusing its dominant position in the sale of iOS apps and is thus likely violating competition rules, as the FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation) announced on Wednesday. Apple had been warned in advance that the company had not canceled the app store rule complained of in due time, according to the authority. Should Apple now be found guilty, there is a risk of a sales-oriented penalty in an as yet undisclosed amount.

Specifically, this is a controversial clause outside of Russia about payment options in Apple’s app store approval specifications. In Clause 3.1.1, Apple prohibits developers and app providers from integrating “buttons, external links and other calls to action” in apps that allow users to use (external) payment options other than Apple’s in-app purchase (IAP) refer. The group can only withhold up to 30 percent commission automatically for purchases via Apple’s interface; the integration of other payment options in apps is prohibited.

Apple asks developers to remove links to their websites and to change the functionality of the app so that registration does not lead to external sites, writes the competition authority. If the company’s guidelines are not followed, the app may not be distributed. In doing so, Apple is abusing its market power in terms of selling apps for iPhones and iPads. The FAS already imposed a fine of 10 million euros on Apple in the spring – it was about other app store requirements. The procedure is still ongoing.

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The App Store clause 3.1.1 is also under attack in the USA: In the dispute between the Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple, a US court ruled in September that Apple is not a monopoly in the “market for transactions in mobile games” is, but the clause is anti-competitive. With an injunction, the judge ordered Apple to delete the clause – the company is contesting that.

(lbe)

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