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Miniclip, Apple duck data privacy lawsuit over pool game app

3 minute read

The Apple Inc logo is seen at the entrance to the Apple store in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

  • '8 Ball Pool' app user alleged his data was improperly accessed
  • Federal and California claims dismissed

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(Reuters) - A California federal judge granted Miniclip SA and Apple Inc's bids to dismiss a proposed privacy class action that alleges the Swiss digital game developer's 8 Ball Pool application accessed data copied to Apple's "Pasteboard" on app users' smart phones without consent.

Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb dismissed the four-count complaint, which included claims under California's invasion of privacy and unfair competition laws and a federal stored communications law, in an order filed Thursday.

Lawyers at Bursor & Fisher who represented named plaintiff Derek Mastel did not immediately return a request for comment. Nor did lawyers of trial boutique Conrad|Metlitzky|Kane who represented Miniclip.

Matt Powers, the San Francisco-based chair of O'Melveny & Myers' consumer class actions practice, represented Apple. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mastel alleged in his proposed class action that Miniclip's pool app, which he downloaded to his iPhone, accessed the Pasteboard, a clipboard feature the complaint described as similar to a computer's "copy-paste" feature, whenever he opened the app. Without the permission of users and "with the aid of Apple," Miniclip can view text entries on a device's Pasteboard, he alleged, claiming the companies wiretap users' electronic communications. Apple gives developers "unrestricted access" to the feature, the complaint said.

Miniclip and Apple filed separate motions to dismiss the case earlier this year. In the order this week, the judge dismissed each claim, citing other privacy rulings and largely finding Mastel failed to state a claim.

He concluded that Mastel didn't adequately allege two clauses under California's invasion of privacy law - which relates to wiretapping - against Miniclip. Since he didn't establish a violation, the claim also can't go forward against Apple, the judge said.

As to the claim for invasion of privacy under the state's constitution, the judge found Mastel's allegations "simply do not approach the sort of 'egregious' or 'highly offensive' conduct which courts have typically permitted to proceed beyond the motion to dismiss stage."

Mastel also didn't allege economic injury, dooming the unfair competition claim, the judge said.

The case is Mastel v. Miniclip SA et al, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, No. 2:21-cv-00124-WBS-KJN.

For Mastel: L. Timothy Fisher and Joel Smith of Bursor & Fisher

For Miniclip: Liz Kim and Warren Metlitzky of Conrad|Metlitzky|Kane

For Apple: Matt Powers of O'Melveny & Myers

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com

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