Supreme Court rules against Apple in lawsuit targeting App Store

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The consumer plaintiffs claim Apple monopolized the market in violation of federal antitrust law by requiring that apps be sold through its App Store and extracting an excessive 30 percent commission on purchases.

Apple just suffered a significant setback after the Supreme Court ruled that consumers do have standing to sue Apple on anti-trust complaints.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court on Monday, penning an opinion against Apple that ruled the tech company can be sued over high prices in their App Store. "Therefore, under Illinois Brick, the iPhone owners were direct purchasers who may sue Apple for alleged monopolization". Apple had asked courts to throw out the lawsuit, arguing that the law only allowed app developers, not customers, to bring such a case. Based on its own interpretation of the legal precedent, Apple argues that consumers can only sue the developers due to their role setting prices. Kavanaugh agreed, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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Apple is among several manufacturers and retailers likely to be affected by escalating tariffs being imposed by the USA, which have increased the cost of a range of consumer products.

This is an antitrust case, in the sense that the plaintiffs want the chance to prove in court that Apple's App Store is effectively a monopoly. But ordinary iPhone users-those who are unwilling or unable to jailbreak or use developer tools-have no way to install apps other than through the official App Store. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed dissenting opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

In a statement, Apple said, "We're confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric".

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Apple shares were down more than 5% Monday morning following the verdict.

If a new report is anything to go by, Apple is getting ready to abandon a series of older iPhones with the release of iOS 13 the next September.

"It is undisputed that the iPhone owners bought the apps directly from Apple", Kavanaugh wrote, splitting with a district court that previously held the app developers responsible for pricing.

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The case is Apple Inc. v Pepper, 17-204.

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