Apple settles for $25Mn in Family Sharing class-action lawsuit

Apple has agreed to a $25 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit concerning its Family Sharing feature. The lawsuit, initiated four years ago, accused the Cupertino tech giant of misleading customers by misrepresenting the capabilities of the Family Sharing feature, particularly in sharing subscriptions to third-party apps.

At the heart of the legal dispute is Apple’s Family Sharing feature, designed to allow users and up to five family members to share access to various Apple services, including Apple Books, iTunes, and App Store purchases. The lawsuit contends that Apple’s advertisements for Family Sharing on certain apps were deceptive, creating a false impression that these apps were shareable through the Family Sharing feature. “Apple has made millions of dollars in fraudulent sales to individuals who Apple told were receiving up to six copies of an App when they were receiving only one,” the lawsuit alleged.

To be precise, the lawsuit alleges that the Cupertino-headquartered tech titan included advertisements for Family Sharing on the landing pages of numerous apps. However, a significant number of subscription-based apps, a sector witnessing substantial growth within Apple’s ecosystem, did not support Family Sharing during the stipulated timeframe. This alleged misrepresentation misled users into believing they could share subscriptions for a more extensive range of apps than was actually possible.

While Apple steadfastly denies any wrongdoing or misleading representations, the company has chosen to settle the class-action lawsuit for $25 million. Out of this amount, $10 million is allocated for attorney fees, with the remaining $15 million earmarked for affected users. The settlement outlines specific criteria for users seeking compensation. To qualify, individuals must have been part of a Family Sharing group with at least one other person between June 21, 2015, and January 30, 2019, while also being US residents during that period. Additionally, eligible users must have purchased a subscription to a third-party app (excluding those published by Apple) through the App Store within the specified timeframe.

The ramifications of this alleged deception resulted in millions of dollars in what the lawsuit terms as fraudulent sales. According to media reports, the affected users have until March 1, 2024, to file a claim for compensation. The claims process will be a crucial aspect of the settlement, determining the final distribution of the $15 million earmarked for users. A final approval hearing is scheduled for April 2, 2024, marking the conclusive phase of the settlement process. So if you are an impacted user, then you will receive up to $50 from the settlement.