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Apple in legal trouble over free-to-play apps aimed at kids

A class-action suit against Apple over free-to-play apps that trick children into making in-app purchases is proceeding to trial

Last year, a federal judge in California consolidated a number of class-action lawsuits from parents who alleged that Apple incorrectly listed apps as free-to-play, only to have children rack up immense bills for digital purchases. These parents have found $100+ iTunes account bills due to these so-called "bait apps".

An Apple user normally has to enter a password to buy items in-game, but Apple previously allowed a 15-minute window after the initial purchase, during which players can make in-app purchases without entering a password. This window allowed children to rack up huge bills on their parents' iTunes accounts in a short period of time, prompting Apple to later remove the 15-minute window.

Apple filed to have the consolidated class-action suits dismissed, but last week U.S. District Judge Edward Davila upheld the original claims against Apple.

"Contrary to Apple's argument, Plaintiffs have alleged with specificity which misrepresentations they were exposed to, their reliance on those misrepresentations, and the resulting harm. Plaintiffs pled specific facts that Apple "actively advertis[ed], market[ed] and promot[ed] its bait Apps as 'free' or nominal ," Judge Davila stated.

Now Apple must dispute the claims, with the company expected to file its defense on May 24.

[Via PaidContent]

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Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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