Why a French association (Le Figaro, L’Équipe, Deezer, etc.) is filing a complaint against Apple

Le GESTE, an association that brings together most of the major French publishers, took the case to American justice. She wants to condemn Apple for its policy on the App Store.

In a press release published on 1er August, the law firm Hagens Berman, located in the United States, announces that it will represent the French association Le GESTE in the context of a complaint against Apple. Why choose this firm? Because Hagens Berman is known for having obtained from Apple the creation of a fund of 100 million dollars for small American developers, which we imagine very attractive for this consortium of French publishers. Also represented by Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi, a French lawyer specializing in competition law, the GESTE no doubt hopes to make Apple bend for the same reasons, in a strong anti-monopoly context. The App Store has been the subject of numerous criticisms in recent years and its model could be forced to evolve.

Who are the members of the GESTE?

Accustomed to beating the giants (there was a lawsuit against Apple Books and another against Google Play), the firm Hagens Berman will represent, within the framework of a class action, the Société du Figaro (the developer of the applications of the Figaro), L’Équipe 24/24 (the developer of L’Équipe group applications) and the Le GESTE association, which brings together a large number of French publishers. The complete list of its members is available on its website. To save you time, here are some of the most well-known names:

  • 20 minutes
  • The TF1 group
  • Altice
  • art
  • bayard
  • Canal+
  • Deezer
  • France 24 / RFI
  • Google (its presence may seem more surprising, especially in the context of an attack against Apple, while Google has long had the same rules. Master Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi tells us that only members of GESTE who publish applications will really be concerned .)
  • INA
  • Konbini
  • The Team
Some of the members of the GESTE. // Source: Numerama screenshot
  • yahoo
  • Le Figaro
  • Point
  • The Parisian / Les Echos
  • M6
  • Dorcel
  • Mediapart
  • Orange
  • French Radio
  • Housing
  • TV5 World
  • The Express
  • AT-Internet
Hagens Berman
The firm responsible for representing the French association. // Source: Hagens Berman

Small developers who wish to join the complaint, in order to obtain compensation if Apple agrees to do the same thing as in the United States, can do so. All they have to do is contact the lawyer Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi to join the class action.

What the French blame Apple for

The complaint was filed with the federal trial court for the Northern District of California, a way for the association’s lawyers to go directly to confront Apple on its land.

Among the reproaches made to Apple, it is particularly indicated that the brand has made its App Store a monopoly (there are no alternative stores), that its 30% commission is far too high (it has been replaced by 15% for small developers since, but they hope to obtain compensation) and that the payment of an annual subscription to publish apps on the App Store causes harm to small French developers. Other similar complaints exist around the world, while the App Store and the Play Store are particularly scrutinized by the authorities. On the other hand, it is the first time that foreigners have come to file a complaint in the United States, which could set a dangerous precedent for Apple.

“If the French are admitted, it is a modification which could have a more global impact”

Master Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi, at Numerama

What the French hope for thanks to their lawsuit against Apple

Several requests will be submitted by the representatives of the Le GESTE association, such as authorizing the deployment of applications elsewhere than on the App Store or the addition of new price levels in Europe (there are 82 today today according to Master Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi).

Ideally, Le GESTE and its representatives hope to obtain an agreement with Apple, as there has been in the United States. In the event that Apple refuses to do so (probably to avoid attracting other countries to US courts), “we are ready to go to the end of the trial” explains Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi. “The objective is to obtain changes to the rules, such as an easing of certain restrictions” according to the lawyer, who places the financial aspect in the background.

What are the chances of success?

First, the American judges will have to examine the admissibility of the action. In 6 to 8 months, we will know if French publishers can attack Apple in the United States or if they have to settle for European authorities, such as the French Competition Authority (another case represented by Fayrouze Masmi-Dazi ). In the event that the file is deemed admissible, then it should allow developers to obtain some form of compensation.

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