Apple wants 'cavalier' $800 million coronavirus app suit dismissed

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has filed for dismissal of an $800 million suit brought by a developer claiming the App Store rejected a coronavirus app solely to keep its contact tracing monopoly.

App Store
App Store


Apple lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss in a New Hampshire federal court, seeking to end a lawsuit brought against it by the developers of "Coronavirus Reporter." The developers claim that Apple blocked their app in March 2020 for "no good reason."

According to Law360, the "Coronavirus Reporter" developers argue that rejecting the app violated antitrust law, as Apple was privately developing its own coronavirus contact-tracing technology at the time.

"This case is borne of a developer's dissatisfaction with Apple's lawful efforts to ensure the App Store was a place where consumers could find trustworthy and reliable coronavirus-related apps," said Apple in its filed motion for dismissal. It adds that the claims "exhibit a cavalier disregard for the law and facts, and border on the frivolous."

Apple says that it rejected the app because it was allowing only "recognized institutions such as government, hospital, insurance company, NGO, or a university" to release COVID-related apps on the App Store. It argued at the time that the "Coronavirus Reporter" app lacked "deeply rooted medical credentials."

The developers argue that their team included a Robert Roberts as chief medical officer. Roberts was reportedly a head NASA cardiologist, and invented what the developers described as the "gold-standard test" for detecting heart attacks.

Central to the developers' suit is the allegation that Apple is in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, the law designed to prevent collusion between companies to form cartels and dominate markets together.

Apple reportedly pointed out that the developer's suit doesn't explain which market it is accused of dominating. "Instead, plaintiff relies on bald (and facially implausible) assertions that Apple is a monopolist and has market power," continued the motion. "Such allegations plainly do not suffice."

Lawyers for Apple also asked that a related breach of contract claim be dismissed. The allegation there is that Apple failed to accept apps that did comply with its requirement for "deeply rooted medical credentials." Apple says there was no contractual provision between the company and this developer regarding that.

There is now specific wording in Apple's developer documentation stating that coronavirus-related apps must be backed by "recognized entities." Apple formally added that wording in mid-March 2020, after "Coronavirus Reporter" had been rejected.

However, the company had already been rejecting apps on this basis for some time before.

Separately, a German developer and lobbyist filed a complaint with the EU in January 2021, claiming that both Apple and Google had unfairly rejected a coronavirus-themed app. In this case, the app as was the "Corona Control Game," and was accepted when it was instead renamed "Viral Days."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,341member
    I'm puzzled why developers don't sue Apple over Apple's restrictions on "watch apps" for the Apple Watch. After all, Apple has a "monopoly" on watch apps for that device. There is "no good reason" Apple should restrict timekeeping apps for the Apple Watch. The Apple requirements don't even let developers put timekeeping functions in a non-watch app because "if your app comes too close to resembling a watch face, we will reject it." (see link below)

    But in this case, the requirement that they stated that Apple requires apps with "deeply rooted medical credentials" isn't actually a requirement in the App Store Review Guidelines. Where did they come up with that requirement? On the contrary, one of the actual requirements for health apps is "Medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny. ... If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app" (see link below.) Did the developers of this app provide evidence of regulatory clearance? Or do they want all health apps for iOS to be free and clear of the requirement for "scrutiny" and "regulatory clearance?"

    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ <--
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,559member
    I'm puzzled why developers don't sue Apple over Apple's restrictions on "watch apps" for the Apple Watch. After all, Apple has a "monopoly" on watch apps for that device. There is "no good reason" Apple should restrict timekeeping apps for the Apple Watch. The Apple requirements don't even let developers put timekeeping functions in a non-watch app because "if your app comes too close to resembling a watch face, we will reject it." (see link below)

    But in this case, the requirement that they stated that Apple requires apps with "deeply rooted medical credentials" isn't actually a requirement in the App Store Review Guidelines. Where did they come up with that requirement? On the contrary, one of the actual requirements for health apps is "Medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny. ... If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app" (see link below.) Did the developers of this app provide evidence of regulatory clearance? Or do they want all health apps for iOS to be free and clear of the requirement for "scrutiny" and "regulatory clearance?"

    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ <--
    The latter. They wanted Apple to allow any POS they regurgitated as a "health App" to be allowed. 

    Oh, and I'd guess now that you planted the seed it'll only be days before Apple is sued for their "monopoly" on AppleWatch faces.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,540member
    DAalseth said:
    I'm puzzled why developers don't sue Apple over Apple's restrictions on "watch apps" for the Apple Watch. After all, Apple has a "monopoly" on watch apps for that device. There is "no good reason" Apple should restrict timekeeping apps for the Apple Watch. The Apple requirements don't even let developers put timekeeping functions in a non-watch app because "if your app comes too close to resembling a watch face, we will reject it." (see link below)

    But in this case, the requirement that they stated that Apple requires apps with "deeply rooted medical credentials" isn't actually a requirement in the App Store Review Guidelines. Where did they come up with that requirement? On the contrary, one of the actual requirements for health apps is "Medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny. ... If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app" (see link below.) Did the developers of this app provide evidence of regulatory clearance? Or do they want all health apps for iOS to be free and clear of the requirement for "scrutiny" and "regulatory clearance?"

    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ <--
    The latter. They wanted Apple to allow any POS they regurgitated as a "health App" to be allowed. 

    Oh, and I'd guess now that you planted the seed it'll only be days before Apple is sued for their "monopoly" on AppleWatch faces.

    Yeah, I think Apple is on pretty solid ground here.  They have a demonstrated track record of rejecting apps on similar grounds.  It doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree with their reasoning, only that it is relatively consistent.  The plaintiff would also have to prove that Apple did this to protect a monopoly in violation of the law.  That certainly seems to be a tall order.  
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobrabaconstang
  • Reply 4 of 6
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,559member
    sdw2001 said:
    DAalseth said:
    I'm puzzled why developers don't sue Apple over Apple's restrictions on "watch apps" for the Apple Watch. After all, Apple has a "monopoly" on watch apps for that device. There is "no good reason" Apple should restrict timekeeping apps for the Apple Watch. The Apple requirements don't even let developers put timekeeping functions in a non-watch app because "if your app comes too close to resembling a watch face, we will reject it." (see link below)

    But in this case, the requirement that they stated that Apple requires apps with "deeply rooted medical credentials" isn't actually a requirement in the App Store Review Guidelines. Where did they come up with that requirement? On the contrary, one of the actual requirements for health apps is "Medical apps that could provide inaccurate data or information, or that could be used for diagnosing or treating patients may be reviewed with greater scrutiny. ... If your medical app has received regulatory clearance, please submit a link to that documentation with your app" (see link below.) Did the developers of this app provide evidence of regulatory clearance? Or do they want all health apps for iOS to be free and clear of the requirement for "scrutiny" and "regulatory clearance?"

    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ <--
    The latter. They wanted Apple to allow any POS they regurgitated as a "health App" to be allowed. 

    Oh, and I'd guess now that you planted the seed it'll only be days before Apple is sued for their "monopoly" on AppleWatch faces.

    Yeah, I think Apple is on pretty solid ground here.  They have a demonstrated track record of rejecting apps on similar grounds.  It doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree with their reasoning, only that it is relatively consistent.  The plaintiff would also have to prove that Apple did this to protect a monopoly in violation of the law.  That certainly seems to be a tall order.  
    The weakest part of the case is their claim that Apple is protecting their “monopoly”. There are lots of other Covid apps on the store and Apple itself has none. 
    sdw2001watto_cobrabaconstang
  • Reply 5 of 6
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,634member
    So that’s how much this developer expected to cash in on COVID? Disgraceful, sounds like the kind of low-life backing the Epic case.
    watto_cobrabaconstang
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