Apple wins antitrust suit over Venmo, CashApp fees after judge tosses case

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U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed an antitrust lawsuit brought against Apple by Venmo and CashApp customers over allegations the Cupertino company’s Apple Cash product was anticompetitive. 

The lawsuit, initially filed on Nov. 17, 2023, in San Jose, sought to hold Apple accountable for its perceived monopolistic practices involving the Apple iOS App Store.

Per the complaint, Apple allegedly makes it difficult or impossible for competitors to the Apple Pay service to introduce desirable features such as integrating decentralized cryptocurrency payments into existing or new products and services.

As such, the complainants allege that Venmo, CashApp, and other existing or new services are unable to introduce features that would lead to competitive pricing and improved functionality for iOS end users.

Related: Apple sued for blocking crypto tech for P2P payments

Judge Chhabria granted Apple’s motion for dismissal on March 26, 2024. According to the case filing, the complaint suffered from “several fatal issues.”

The filing goes on to state that the plaintiffs failed to establish what antitrust actions took place, nor did they establish why competitors such as Zelle weren’t included in the initial complaint. It also refers to the plaintiff’s suit as “speculative,” and outlines what the court perceives as a flawed premise.

Essentially, the initial complaint alleges that Apple’s terms of service for products such as Venmo and CashApp to appear on the App Store prohibit those companies from including cryptocurrency features in their products. The judge’s ruling cites the relevant rule (Guideline 3.1.5 in the App Store t.o.s.) and dismisses its applicability in the suit.

According to the filing:

“Even assuming that Guideline 3.1.5 restricts decentralized cryptocurrency transactions (which seems doubtful), it is not clear how companies agreeing to a guideline outlining the Apple Store requirements for apps facilitating cryptocurrency transactions constitutes an unlawful agreement.”

Going forward, the plaintiffs have 21 days from the date of the filing to submit amendments to the case that could compel the court to move forward with the lawsuit before the dismissal becomes record.

However, the odds may not be in the plaintiff’s favor given the tenor of the judge’s final remarks in the filing:

“The plaintiffs should not assume that the defects mentioned in this ruling are the only ones in the complaint. Apple’s motion to dismiss has put them on notice of many more potential problems. Indeed, it is difficult to see how amendment could salvage this case. But, in an abundance of caution, the motion to dismiss is granted with leave to amend. If no amended complaint is filed within 21 days of this ruling, dismissal will be with prejudice.”