French Software Developers Sue Apple over App Store Contract Terms

October 31, 2016

REUTERS/Mike Segar

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Open source software development company, Nexedi, has sued Apple in a court in France.  Nexedi claims that some of the terms Apple includes in its contract with apps developers violate French law.  They allege that those terms unreasonably force apps developers who want to work with Apple to incur greater development costs and often degrade the performance of their apps, thus harming consumers.

In today’s marketplace, it is extremely important for apps developers to have their products distributed through Apple’s apps distribution system.  In order to qualify for access to that distribution platform, apps developers must comply with specific terms imposed by Apple.

Matsuura Blakeley BannerApple reportedly requires that all apps it distributes must be operationally compatible with Apple’s “Safari” web browser.  Nexedi and some other apps developers contend that Safari is not the best enabled or most current browser system now in use.  They allege that, in order to meet the compatibility requirement imposed by Apple, their apps must, in effect, be impaired with regard to overall performance.

Nexedi and the other developers allege that the apps they currently offer to the public have enhanced performance capabilities and are thus more useful and valuable for consumers.  Those fully enabled apps, however, are not compatible with Apple’s browser.  In order to modify the apps to make them compatible with Apple’s Safari, the developers must apparently spend additional money to disable their apps.

Nexedi contends that Apple’s apps distribution requirements force developers to spend additional money to create versions of their products that are inferior to their standard commercial versions.  Nexedi alleges that this situation is harmful both to apps developers and to apps users.

Apple and other businesses have the right to ensure that the vendors with whom they work create and market products that do not harm or undermine their own products and services.  Those businesses do not, however, have a right to leverage market power into a system which forces vendors to create and distribute products of inferior quality to consumers.  In this particular case, the French court is being asked to strike that appropriate balance