Apple can't dodge rival app store Cydia's antitrust lawsuit

3 minute read

The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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  • California federal judge says claims not time-barred, can move forward
  • Apple's Gibson Dunn team directed to respond in June

(Reuters) - Apple Inc on Thursday lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit in California federal court from competing app store Cydia, which accused the iPhone maker of maintaining an unlawful monopoly over software distribution on its operating system.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, rejected Apple's contention that Cydia's allegations fell outside a four-year window allowed under federal antitrust law.

Gonzalez Rogers issued her ruling for plaintiff SaurikIT LLC, which developed Cydia, after dismissing an earlier legal challenge. She found the claims in the first lawsuit were outside the statute of limitations. But she allowed Cydia to bring a new complaint, which was filed in January.

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Cydia's lawyers argued in the amended lawsuit that Apple's technology updates between 2018 and 2021 were "overt" acts that harmed iOS app distributors such as Cydia. In Thursday's ruling, Gonzalez Rogers said "to the extent plaintiff's claims rely on Apple's technological updates to exclude Cydia from being able to operate altogether, those claims are timely."

Apple and a lawyer for the company at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher did not immediately respond to messages on Friday seeking comment.

Cydia's lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan did not immediately respond to similar messages.

Apple's attorneys in February called Cydia's claims "time-barred" and "stale" and urged Gonzalez Rogers to dismiss the complaint and to bar any further effort to amend it.

Cydia's lawsuit "seeks to open the markets for iOS app distribution and iOS app payment processing to those who wish to compete fairly with Apple, and to recover the enormous damages Apple caused Cydia."

Cydia's case is similar to an antitrust lawsuit that Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc brought against Apple in 2020 over its removal of the popular video game from the App Store. Apple pulled Fortnite after Epic set up a payment system that went around Apple's 30% commission on in-app purchases.

Gonzalez Rogers largely ruled for Apple last year, and the case is now pending in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gonzalez Rogers directed Apple to respond by mid-June to Cydia's complaint.

The case is SaurikIT LLC v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 4:20-cv-08733-YGR.

For SaurikIT: Adam Wolfson and Stephen Swedlow of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

For Apple: Jay Srinivasan of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Read more:

Apple urges court to reject Epic's appeal in App Store antitrust case

Dozens of U.S. states say Apple stifles competition; back 'Fortnite' maker

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