In August 2021, Apple agreed to pay $100 million and make changes to the App Store to settle a class action lawsuit filed against it by developers. Judge Yvonne-Gonzalez Rogers, who is overseeing the case, said yesterday she planned to approve the settlement, but raised concerns about the amount the lawyers plan to charge.
As indicated by Law360, Rogers said it wanted more data on the “calculations” behind the $27 million attorney’s fee being sought, and how much that fee will reduce claims from smaller developers. She asked for a mathematical breakdown of how much less each class member would receive if she awarded $25 million in attorney fees instead of $27 million.
Rogers said that for some developers the difference could be significant, which is why she wants to “see the numbers.” In March, Apple pointed out that the $27 million fee was above the 25% benchmark set by the Ninth Circuit Court.
Apple calls the settlement the Small Developer Relief Fund, and it began accepting claims from developers in January. Developers had until May 20 to submit a claim via the website, and Apple provided several reminders. Developers were able to claim between $250 and $30,000 depending on their historical participation in the App Store.
There were approximately 67,000 eligible developers. Developers who earned less than $100 will receive the minimum payout of $250, while those who earned more than $1 million will be eligible for a higher payout. Minimum payments are subject to change depending on the total number of claims.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit in 2019 where a group of iOS developers accused Apple of using its App Store monopoly to impose “anti-profit” commissions. Developers were unhappy with Apple’s 30% cut in App Store sales, an issue that was addressed with the App Store Small Business program which reduced the commission small developers have to pay to 15% .
In addition to paying a $100 settlement fee, Apple has agreed to allow developers to use communications such as email to share information about available payment methods outside of the App Store, and Apple has increased the number of prices available to developers for subscriptions.
Apple has also pledged to maintain the App Store Small Business program and App Store search, without making changes for at least three years, with the company also creating an annual Transparency Report based on App Store data covering rejections of apps, apps deleted from App Store, find information, and more.
The Small Developer Assistance Fund’s website says it plans to distribute funds to developers who have submitted a “timely and valid claim” as soon as possible.