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Lawsuit against Apple for 'bait' apps moves forward

April 20, 2012|By Michelle Maltais

A group of California parents calling Apple's in-app purchasing practices rotten for luring their kids with expensive "addictive"  game apps gets to proceed with a class-action lawsuit. A San Jose judge recently denied Apple's effort to get the case dismissed.

In the suit, the parents allege that their minor children were able make purchases of "game currency" within free games without their knowledge or permission. And the "highly addictive" nature of the games "compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of game currency, amounting to as much as $100 per purchase or more," the suit alleges.

Gaming currency allows secondary purchases, such as additional levels, within the game and serves as a surrogate for real-world dollars. Children's game "The Smurfs' Village," for example, uses "smurfberries" as currency for purchase for up to nearly $60.

The Daily Mail reported that one British 7-year-old racked up thousands of dollars in charges within four days of his mother downloading the free game Tap Zoo to her iPad for him.

Although Apple has since made adjustments, at the time the suit was filed, several purchases could be made for a period after the password was initially entered to buy the app. This resulted, according to the suit, in children charging the parents’ iTunes accounts, which had credit card information stored, without their knowledge or permission, in amounts ranging from $99 to more than $300.

While the case can go forward, whether the parents prevail remains to be seen, of course. Apple has argued that parents can easily block their children from making such charges.

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