Emerging Technology

Hagens Berman: U.S. iOS Developers to Benefit From $100 Million Apple Small Developer Assistance Fund and Changes to App Store Policies in Developer Antitrust Class-Action Settlement

U.S. iOS app developers with less than $1 million per year in proceeds from App Store sales can receive hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars from the fund, along with other benefits achieved by the settlement

Attorneys at the law firm Hagens Berman announced details of a class-action settlement reached with Apple Inc. on behalf of small U.S. iOS app developers. The settlement will result in the creation of a $100 million Small Developer Assistance Fund and important changes to App Store policies and practices.

The developers' lawsuit was brought against Apple in 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Hagens Berman, Sperling & Slater, Saveri & Saveri, and Freed Kanner law firms.

According to the lawsuit, Apple monopolized U.S. distribution services for iOS apps and in-app digital products, which resulted in commission overcharges to U.S. iOS developers.

The Small Developer Assistance Fund created as part of the settlement will benefit over 99% of U.S. iOS developers, whose proceeds from app and in-app digital product sales through all associated accounts were less than $1 million per calendar year during the period from June 4, 2015 to Apr. 26, 2021. These developers can claim sums from the fund ranging between minimums of $250 to $30,000, based on their historic participation in the App Store ecosystem.

Further, small and other U.S. iOS developers will benefit from changes to App Store policies and practices as they relate to App Store search results, app and in-app product price points, appeals from rejections of apps and transparency. Small U.S. iOS developers also will benefit from a pledge that for at least three years following court approval of the settlement, Apple will not raise the 15% commission rate that applies for those participating in its Small Business Program.

Additionally, all U.S. iOS developers will benefit from a major change to the App Store Review Guidelines, which will remain in place for at least the same three-year period. As part of the settlement, Apple will permit all U.S. iOS developers to communicate with their customers outside their apps about purchasing methods other than Apple's in-app purchase (IAP) system. Apple also will remove the prohibition against U.S. developers using information obtained within their apps to communicate with their customers outside their apps about the use of purchasing methods other than IAP, subject to consumer consent and opt-out safeguards.

"This hard-won settlement will bring meaningful improvements to U.S. iOS developers who distribute their digital wares through the App Store, especially for those small developers who bring so much creativity and energy to their work," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and an attorney representing iOS app developers in the class action. "Plus, the creation of the Small Developer Assistance Program, like the Small Business Program – both of which our clients' suit helped to bring about – could not come at a better time, given the pandemic."

Donald R. Cameron, developer of an iOS baby-naming app and one of the named plaintiffs in the suit, cites the Small Developer Assistance Fund as good for developers in the class, especially given business disruptions caused by COVID-19.

He added, "I'm also very pleased with Apple's commitments regarding App Store search, so that good apps have a better chance of being discovered. The transparency report that Apple will publish annually is a good thing, too, to allow everyone to review objective data regarding search queries and results."

"More pricing tiers will become available to developers by the end of next year, which is also great," he said.

Richard Czeslawski, president of Pure Sweat Basketball, Inc. (PSB), the second of the suit's named plaintiffs, called out three parts of the settlement.

"First, we have guaranteed three more years of the 50% commission drop for developers like PSB. We feel great about the fact that our lawsuit helped bring about such a large price cut," he said. "Second, we've gained the ability to use contact information obtained from signups in our app to communicate with our users outside the app about purchasing alternatives to IAP. That's a big deal."

"And third, we appreciate all the new pricing tiers that are on the way, which will give us greater flexibility in how we market and sell our workout subscriptions." Czeslawski added that he's also pleased with the creation of the Small Developer Assistance Fund, which will bring "some welcome financial aid" to small developers in this time of economic insecurity.

Berman summed up, "We truly are proud that a case brought by two developers, standing in the shoes of tens of thousands of U.S. iOS developers, could help to bring about so much important change."

What Can Small U.S. iOS Developers Expect from the Settlement?

Small U.S. iOS developers – those with less than $1 million in App Store proceeds through all associated developer accounts per calendar year from June 4, 2015 to Apr. 26, 2021 (with the 2015 calendar year consisting of June 4, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2015 and the 2021 calendar year consisting of Jan. 1, 2021 through Apr. 26, 2021) – can receive the following:

  • A payment from the Small Developer Assistance Fund ranging from minimums of $250 to $30,000, based on their historic participation in the iOS App Store ecosystem. Contingencies described in documents at the settlement website, www.SmallAppDeveloperAssistance.com , may result in higher minimum awards.

Additionally, all U.S. iOS developers, including small U.S. iOS developers, will benefit for a period of at least three years from the date of final approval of the settlement from changes to Apple's policies and practices relating to the App Store, including as to: (a) the 15% commission rate for participants in Apple's Small Business Program, (b) out-of-app communications with developer customers regarding purchasing methods other than Apple's in-app purchase (IAP) system, (c) App Store search results, (d) the addition of hundreds more app and in-app digital product price points, bringing the number from fewer than 100 to more than 500 by Dec. 31, 2022, (e) appeals from rejections of apps, and (f) transparency.

More information can be found at the settlement website, www.SmallAppDeveloperAssistance.com .

About Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a class-action law firm operating in 10 cities worldwide. The firm's tenacious drive for plaintiffs' rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards, and titles of "Most Feared Plaintiff's Firm," MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law, as well as recognition for Outstanding Antitrust Litigation by the American Antitrust Institute. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com . Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw .

Ashley Klann

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BlackBerry and Adobe Partner to Deliver Secure Forms with Electronic Signatures on Mobile

BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) and Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) today announced that they have partnered to deliver a secure forms solution for mobile.  The software solution, which combines BlackBerry® UEM and Adobe Experience Manager Forms, is designed for popular mobile device platforms, and meets the rigorous security standards required by regulated industries.  Furthermore, the partnership agreement allows BlackBerry to resell Adobe Experience Manager Forms software.

BlackBerry Logo Black (PRNewsfoto/Blackberry Limited)

Prior to the partnership between BlackBerry and Adobe, users have been challenged in completing and approving documents away from their desktops, limiting their mission-critical mobility, and productivity.  In this new solution, BlackBerry UEM manages public key infrastructure (PKI) certificates to secure the connection to Adobe Experience Manager, allowing users to complete and electronically sign documents from anywhere, on their employer-issued or BYO mobile devices, and without a VPN.

"BlackBerry and Adobe both have a long-standing and trusted reputation for enabling the digital transformation of organizations around the world," said Neelam Sandhu , SVP Sustainability & Chief Elite Customer Success Officer. "BlackBerry is delighted to partner with Adobe to solve this imperative security and productivity need for regulated industries.  BlackBerry UEM together with Adobe Experience Manager will enable government, financial services, healthcare, legal, and other organizations, to modernize and optimize their operations while maintaining the highest levels of security, protecting national security."

"Electronic workflows should not be limited to desktop environments," said John Landwehr , Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Public Sector at Adobe.  "Business processes cannot be delayed by lack of mobile support, for securely completing and signing electronic documents.  The partnership between BlackBerry and Adobe enhances operational processing and workforce efficiency for hiring and onboarding, procurement of goods and services, medical readiness, maintenance, and logistics, and so many more use cases, that require signed approvals at any time, on any device."

This new solution is available now for customers using BlackBerry UEM and BlackBerry Adobe Experience Manager Forms.

BlackBerry UEM is used by security and productivity conscious organizations around the world and has the highest number of government security certifications in the industry, across unclassified and classified requirements.  Announced earlier this year, BlackBerry UEM is the only UEM solution to be recognized, by customers, in the top right quadrant of Gartner's 2023 Gartner Peer Insights 'Voice of the Customer': UEM Tools report.  For more information on BlackBerry UEM visit BlackBerry.com/UEM .

Adobe Experience Manager Forms is an end-to-end digital forms and documents solution that enables organizations to modernize their data capture and document workflows into a seamless, agile digital experience.  It allows users to create responsive forms at scale, capture data and e-signatures securely, and integrate into back-end systems to automate manual workflows.  For more information on Adobe Experience Manager, visit Adobe.com/AEM .

About BlackBerry
BlackBerry (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world.  The company secures more than 500M endpoints including over 215M vehicles.  Based in Waterloo, Ontario , the company leverages AI and machine learning to deliver innovative solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, safety, and data privacy solutions, and is a leader in the areas of endpoint security, endpoint management, encryption, and embedded systems.  BlackBerry's vision is clear - to secure a connected future you can trust.

BlackBerry. Intelligent Security. Everywhere.

For more information, visit BlackBerry.com and follow @BlackBerry.

About Adobe
Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com .

BlackBerry Media Relations
+1 (519) 597-7273

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SOURCE BlackBerry Limited

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