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Apple facing legal pressure over deceptive free-to-play apps

Apple facing legal pressure over deceptive free-to-play apps

April 13, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

April 13, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Apple has found itself caught in a bit of legal trouble, as a U.S. District Judge has chosen to uphold a handful of claims that the company distributed free apps that trick children into money in-app purchases.

Last year, angry parents filed a series of class action lawsuits against Apple, as the iTunes App Store previously allowed users to buy in-game items without a password for the first 15 minutes after downloading the app, giving young children the chance to buy hundreds of dollars worth of content without their parent's approval.

Apple previously removed the 15 minute window and filed to dismiss the charges, but U.S. District Judge Edward Da Vila last week said that the company may have violated consumer protection laws by inappropriately labeling these apps as free, reports PaidContent.

Now that the case is moving forward, Apple plans to argue its side of the story by leveraging contract law and debating whether the iTunes terms of service apply to purchases made within third-party apps. The company will file its defense on May 24.

The apps in question in this case most often target young children, and urge them to buy additional items to succeed. Some parents have reported that their children have spent as much as $375 dollars on these games without realizing they are spending real currency.

Among the most infamous of these apps was Capcom's Smurfs Village (pictured), which urged children to buy virtual currency to expand their in-game town. The game's download page now includes a prominent disclaimer to inform parents of its business model.

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