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Apple sued by iOS developers over App Store fees

The complaint is over Apple's fees and other alleged anticompetitive actions.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference for designers and engineers is underway, but some iOS developers aren't happy with the company's App Store policies.

On Tuesday, California-based developer Donald R. Cameron and Pure Sweat Basketball filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit alleges Apple conducts anticompetitive practices in its App Store, such as a 30% commission rate, minimum pricing mandates and an annual developer fee of $99. The lawsuit is seeking class action status.

"Apple blatantly abuses its market power to the detriment of developers, who are forced to use the only platform available to them to sell their iOS app," Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and an attorney representing the proposed class of developers said in a press release. "In a competitive landscape, this simply would not happen."

Hagen Berman won a lawsuit against Apple in 2016 over e-book price fixing, resulting in a $400 million settlement for customers.

This isn't the first time Apple has been accused of abusing the App Store's power to stifle competition. Earlier this year, Spotify lodged a complaint with Europe's antitrust watchdog, saying Apple uses its App Store policies as a cudgel to curb Spotify, the main competitor to Apple Music. In May, Phillip Shoemaker, who ran Apple's third-party app reviews for years, said the company has struggled with using the App Store as a weapon against competitors.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, Apple has rejected claims that it uses its hold on the App Store to hurt competitors' products. In May, it launched an App Store explainer page that notes how Apple operates "a store that welcomes competition."

The suit comes a day after lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they're planning a broad antitrust investigation of Silicon Valley tech giants, which have been under intense scrutiny over their scale and power. The investigation is meant to explore whether big tech companies are engaging in "anti-competitive conduct." It'll also try to decide if the government's current antitrust laws and enforcement policies are enough to fix the problems.