Launch of Apple and Google collectives in Portugal to seek redress for Portuguese consumers and businesses for anticompetitive conduct in app stores
Collective competition claims against Apple and Google have been filed with the Portuguese Competition Court with a view to recovering compensation of up to €198 million total on behalf of 6.5 million Portuguese consumers and businesses who made purchases of apps or digital content, services and subscriptions within apps on both Apple’s iOS and Google Android devices.
The claims have been filed by Professor Fabrizio Esposito who seeks to act as class representative on behalf of affected app purchasers in order to secure compensation for each class member.
Professor Esposito is instructing Portuguese firms J+Legal and Cardigos on the Apple and Google claims respectively, with support from Hausfeld and Eskariam.
The claims allege that Apple and Google have systematically acted in contravention of competition law by overcharging millions of Portuguese purchasers of apps and in-app content and subscriptions.
The damages sought on behalf of Portuguese consumers and businesses amounts to up to € 100 million in each of the two cases. Professor Esposito seeks to represent around 2.9 million Apple App Store users and 3.6 million Google Play Store users; alleging that Apple and Google’s 30% commission is anticompetitive and excessive.
The claim argues that Apple and Google’s 30% commission is anticompetitive and unlawful, and that they would be unable to charge such an excessive fee if they didn’t impose technical and contractual restrictions on their devices which make competition by other app stores and payment services providers virtually impossible. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are pre-installed and prominently placed on all Apple and nearly all Android smartphones and tablets. This, combined with the contractual and technical restrictions which make the use of alternative app stores virtually impossible, has the effect of shutting down competition and enabling Apple and Google to charge excessive commissions, increasing prices for consumers.
Hausfeld’s Global Co-Chair, Anthony Maton:
“Alongside its European bases, Hausfeld has always partnered with outstanding local firms to bring its extensive litigation experience and expertise to an ever-widening number of European jurisdictions to assist consumers and businesses harmed by corporate anti-competitive behaviour. Our latest collaboration sees us collaborating on collective claims in Portugal where we are well placed to support class representatives to defend the interests of Portuguese consumers and businesses against, in this case, Apple and Google.”
Hausfeld competition partner, Lesley Hannah, confirms:
“This is the latest in a series of claims and regulatory investigations against the technology giants, who are accused of breaching competition law by charging 30% commission on all purchases of apps, in-app content and subscriptions, generating massive and rising profits.”
David Fernández, CEO of Eskariam, explains that:
"There is still a lot to do in the market for collective actions in Europe which is growing with more and more courts offering the legal means to effectively defend consumer rights. Always on the side of the claimants, Eskariam continue to promote the importance of collective redress as part of our society to ensure that large corporations compensate those affected by abuses of power."
Who is entitled to compensation?
Professor Esposito is seeking compensation for any person who has purchased an app or digital content, services or subscriptions within an app in the Portuguese versions of the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Purchasers do not have to take any action at this stage. If the case proceeds, they will automatically be included in the class. If the claims are successful and compensation is available, class members will be notified and can apply for compensation to be paid to them.
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Professor Esposito is an Assistant Professor in Private Law at the NOVA School of Law and a proponent of consumer rights. Professor Esposito has in-depth knowledge on the interplay between EU, private law, economics and legal theory and his research focuses on consumer and competition law and digital markets.
Hausfeld is a leading international disputes-only law firm, known for its top-tier expertise in global competition litigation. The firm has significant experience representing European claimants in all aspects of collective redress and group claims including abuse of dominance litigation against Big Tech and other large corporates. The firm has acted on some of the most complex damages claims of the last decade: with the largest client representation in Europe in the Trucks Cartel litigation (UK, Germany, the Netherlands); on the “Interchange Fee” litigation against Visa and Mastercard; in “Google Shopping” claims on behalf of price comparison websites against Google; against six financial institutions over their participation in unlawful price-fixing of the foreign exchange (FX) currency markets; in claims brought against Qualcomm for using its position to allegedly overcharge in the markets for smartphone chipsets.
Hausfeld is currently litigating competition claims against Apple and Google in the UK and for Apple the Netherlands in respect of their app stores. Within the last few weeks, we have seen significant developments for the millions who use Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store, with the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal authorising the proposed class representatives, Liz Coll and Dr Rachael Kent respectively, to bring the proposed opt-out collective claims in two on the spot certifications. It confirmed that the two tech giants must face these antitrust claims before the UK courts.
ESKARIAM is the first Spanish legal services company to specialise in collective claims. Their state-of-the-art litigation management technologies supports affected consumers and businesses, help ensure they secure compensation and safeguard their rights. With a strong record defending consumers’ rights against Spain’s largest financial and insurance companies, this collaboration widens Eskariam’s offering of services into the European market outside of Spain. A new foothold in the Portuguese market ensures that its offering now covers the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.
J+Legal is a legal boutique founded by four senior lawyers, three of whom have more than 30 years of experience who were leaders in their areas of practice in international firms.
Cardigos specialises in providing high-end legal advice to its clients. Its practice focuses on EU and competition law, arbitration, commercial and civil litigation and on a broad range of business disputes. Their lawyers are experienced litigators from pre-contentious advisory to trial.
Silvia Van den Bruel
Marketing & BD Director, Hausfeld
+44 20 7936 0921