Apple Fires Back at Plaintiffs in Fight Over App Store Crypto Policies

News | March 1, 2024 By:

On Friday, February 23, 2024, tech giant Apple filed a reply in response to the plaintiffs’ opposition in the case Pierre et al v. Apple Inc. The lawsuit accuses Apple of antitrust violations related to its App Store policies regarding cryptocurrency apps and peer-to-peer payment features.

In their class action complaint filed earlier this year, the plaintiffs claimed that Apple’s App Store Review Guideline 3.1.5 amounted to an illegal agreement between Apple, PayPal, Block, and Google to prohibit decentralized cryptocurrency technologies on iOS devices. However, Apple argued in its motion to dismiss that the plaintiffs failed to establish any unlawful agreement or antitrust standing.

In their opposition filed just before Apple’s reply, the plaintiffs acknowledged that Apple’s approval of peer-to-peer payment features alone does not constitute an antitrust violation. Instead, they shifted their focus to arguing that Apple’s dual roles as the sole distributor of apps via the App Store platform and as a supplier of its own Apple Cash app amounts to an illegal restraint of trade.

However, in its 24-page reply, Apple refuted the plaintiffs’ new unpleaded theory. Apple argued that dual distribution is commonly accepted in antitrust law and that such arrangements should only be considered anticompetitive under a rule of reason analysis. The reply also pointed out that the plaintiffs’ own admissions undermine their case, such as conceding that Apple is allowed to set security criteria for apps and that decentralized cryptocurrency technologies do attract scammers requiring regulation.

Apple further asserted that the plaintiffs failed to establish the necessary elements of an antitrust claim, such as demonstrating an unlawful agreement between Apple and other companies. The reply criticized the plaintiffs for changing their allegations and theories repeatedly without addressing the fundamental issues like lack of antitrust standing. Apple argued the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice since the plaintiffs have exhausted multiple flawed theories.

The case is being closely watched by the cryptocurrency community, given that the outcome could impact how cryptocurrency apps are reviewed and distributed on the hugely popular iOS platform.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.