EXCLUSIVE Dutch watchdog finds Apple App Store payment rules anti-competitive – sources

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The Apple logo is seen in the Apple Store at Marché Saint Germain in Paris, France, July 15, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

AMSTERDAM, Oct. 7 (Reuters) – The Dutch competition authority has found that Apple’s rules forcing software developers to use its integrated payment system are anti-competitive and has ordered it to make changes, four said people familiar with the matter, in the latest regulatory setback for the iPhone maker.

Apple’s app store payment policies, particularly its requirement that app developers exclusively use its payment system where commissions range from 15% to 30%, have long been the subject of complaints from consumers. developers.

The Dutch investigation to determine whether Apple’s practices amounted to abuse of market dominance was launched in 2019, but was later scaled back to focus primarily on dating market applications.

They included a complaint from Match Group, owner of popular dating service Tinder, who said Apple’s rules prevent it from communicating directly with its customers about payments.

The Netherlands Consumers and Markets Authority (ACM) informed the U.S. tech giant of its decision last month, making it the first antitrust regulator to conclude that the company has abused its market power in the App Store, although Apple faces challenges in several of the countries.

ACM did not impose a fine on Apple, but demanded changes to the in-app payment system, the people said. The decision was not seen by Reuters.

An ACM spokesperson declined to comment, saying the case is currently under legal review. The regulator has previously said it plans to release its decision this year.

Apple was not immediately available for comment. The company claims that its app store policies ensure the safety and privacy of its users.

Match declined to comment. A lawyer representing the company in the Dutch case said he could not comment.

People said Apple applied to Rotterdam District Court for an injunction to block publication of the decision during its appeal.

A court spokesperson confirmed the existence of the case to block publication, but could not say when a ruling is expected. The debates are not open to the press or the public.

The European Commission launched an investigation in 2020 alongside the Dutch investigation, but focused on whether app store rules favor Apple apps when there are competing products, such as Apple Music. compared to Spotify.

A U.S. judge last month ordered Apple to make it easier to promote alternative payment systems through apps. Plaintiff Epic Games, the creator of “Fortnite,” has appealed, saying the decision does not go far enough. Read more

South Korea has enacted a law prohibiting app store operators from forcing developers to use their official payment systems. Apple and Google are due to answer this month on how they will comply.

In Japan, Apple settled an antitrust investigation by agreeing to allow certain music, video and e-book apps, including Netflix, to promote shopping options outside of their apps. Read more

Reporting by Yun Chee Foo, Toby Sterling, Stephen Nellis; Additional reports from Paresh Dave; Editing by Jan Harvey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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