Apple capitulated to demands from the Chinese government by removing several VPNs from its App Store last week. Source: Reuters

Chinese law firm files complaint against Apple for breaching antitrust laws

APPLE is the subject of a complaint filed by a Chinese law firm on behalf of 28 local developers on the basis it has breached antitrust regulations through the application of excessively expensive fees and the removal of certain apps from its local store without sufficient justification.

The complaint was lodged by Dare & Sure Law Firm in Beijing, who told Reuters on Thursday they had invited the developers to join in on the case last April, though the firm declined to provide details on the parties involved.

“During its localization process, Apple has run into several antitrust issues,” said Lin Wei, an attorney with Dare & Sure. “After an initial investigation, we consulted a number of enterprises and got a very strong response.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China. Source: Reuters

The case was filed on Tuesday to China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, as well as the National Development and Reform Commission. Both bodies handle antitrust matters in the country.

Apple has contested the suit, telling Reuters Apple had been acting consistently across various country-specific stores. Two weeks ago, the company removed several commercial VPNs from its App Store, signalling their willingness to comply with China’s increasingly strict Internet laws while simultaneously setting off criticisms the company was assisting the government’s censorship agenda.

SEE ALSO: Apple appoints Isabel Ge Mahe as new China head of operations

The company also said they were working on expanding its local developer relations team in the hopes they will be able to better respond to developers’ concerns, according to a spokesman. Recently, the world’s most valuable technology company selected Isabel Ge Mahe, a local and former Apple software engineer, as their very first head of China operations.

Ge Mahe will be working to smoothen relations between the company and its Chinese audience, while also being saddled with the difficult task of ensuring Apple stays out of regulatory crosshairs.

Apple’s China App Store is its most profitable store globally, despite being subject to strict censorship controls that have pressured the firm to recently remove dozens of apps.

Additional reporting by Reuters