Apple has filed a subpoena against the Coalition for App Fairness, asking for details of their communications as Apple battles a series of antitrust lawsuits. The Coalition for App Fairness includes several companies that have criticized Apple’s App Store rules and fees, including Epic Games, Spotify, Deezer, Tile, and Match Group.
Members of the Coalition for App Fairness earlier this month filed a complaint (via Apple Insider) attempting to prevent the approval of Apple’s subpoenas. The Coalition for App Fairness is concerned that Apple is using these private communications to retaliate against coalition members.
The Coalition for App Fairness says it is not involved in Apple’s antitrust cases, which were filed before the coalition was formed. Apple also subpoenaed communications from Forbes Tate Partners LLC, a public affairs company used by the Coalition for App Fairness, and Meghan DiMuzio, the coalition’s executive director.
Apple is looking for a “host of materials and communications” such as training materials, activities, meeting minutes, recruiting efforts, membership rosters, funding, communications among coalition members and potential members, and communications between coalition members and any foreign or domestic government entity. or official regarding Apple.
The Coalition for App Fairness says that if the subpoenas are approved, it could “cool the frankness” of members’ discussions and “the effectiveness of the Coalition’s advocacy efforts.”
Yet Apple has made intrusive requests for documents and communications unrelated to this issue, such as the Coalition’s internal governance documents, financial support, public relations strategy, and vast amounts of confidential communications between and. among Coalition staff, members, and others. The real purpose of Apple’s discovery requests should be obvious: The company seeks to punish its political opponents by attacking their confidential communications with a cumbersome and intrusive discovery.
Communications among coalition members are “unrelated to claims and defenses in antitrust cases and are out of proportion to the needs of the business,” according to the file.
The Coalition for App Fairness has called on the judge to “quash” Apple’s subpoenas entirely. Apple is researching the documentation for the antitrust class action lawsuit it is dealing with.