Chinese app developers to take fight with Apple to SAIC

24 May 2017 12:22pm

11 May 2017.

Apple's antitrust woes in China have deepened, as a law firm representing at least 10 Chinese mobile phone app developers prepares to lodge official complaints to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce as soon as next month, MLex has learned.

Lin Wei, a managing partner at Dare & Sure Law Firm, told MLex that the law practice had so far gathered evidence and information from more than 10 mobile app developers whose applications had been removed by the App Store since it announced the launch of class-action lawsuits last month.

Lin said the firm would hold an expert meeting later this month and invite advisers from the State Council's Antimonopoly Commission and IT specialists to discuss alleged abuses of market dominance by Apple.

Dare & Sure plans to submit evidence and expert comment to support its official complaint to SAIC, which administers non-price related antitrust matters in China.

Lin also said he was awaiting his clients' approvals before filing civil antitrust lawsuits against Apple at Chinese courts.

As reported by MLex, the Beijing-based intellectual property and litigation law practice said it had accepted requests for representation from a number of local app developers and consumers to conduct an investigation and detailed analysis of alleged violations and infringements by Apple.

The firm accused Apple of violating China's Anti-Monopoly Law by abusing market dominance in operating its App Store. It also alleged that Apple had violated Chinese government policies and laws on the provision of Internet information services and web publishing services.

Apple enjoys absolute dominance of the market for its iOS operating system and its App Store. Dare & Sure accused the App Store of violating the Anti-Monopoly Law by refusing to trade because Apple had removed some Chinese apps from the store without reasonable justification.

In addition, it accused the App Store of imposing discriminatory treatment, because some video and music apps had been deleted as a result of complaints from US intellectual property rights owners, even though some of those complaints hadn't adhered to Chinese law. Also, many video-game apps were deleted without what the law firm called adequate legal reasons.

Apple had also engaged in bundling, the law firm said, requiring purchases of all apps to be made through iTunes and prohibiting payments via third parties.

Apple is facing increasing demands for antitrust intervention in China. On April 19, Chinese Internet giant Tencent announced that it was shutting down the blog post tip payment feature on WeChat, a messaging app that is ubiquitous in China, due to restrictions involving Apple's in-app purchasing policies.

Some local media said such policies involved suspected violations of the Anti-Monopoly Law and abuses of market dominance. It is not immediately clear whether Chinese antitrust regulators will intervene.

Article 17 of the Anti-Monopoly Law prohibits trading parties with dominant market positions from selling products at unreasonably high prices, refusing to trade, bundling products, and imposing unreasonable trading conditions without fair justification.

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