Software developers filed a lawsuit years ago claiming Apple uses the App Store to enforce a monopoly on iOS software. Apple argues that developers don’t have the right to bring this lawsuit, only consumers do.
The legal maneuvering has dragged on, but U.S. Supreme Court just announced that it will take up the question during its next term, which starts in October.
The wrangling began way back in 2011 with Apple v. Pepper. At that time, the plaintiffs requested class action status for their complaint about high App Store commissions being the result of a monopoly. Having that status granted would allow all developers of iPhone and iPad software to potentially benefit.
The debate so far centers on a 1977 Supreme Court decision that only consumers can sue under federal antitrust law.
A lower court said the developers can’t bring this suit because they aren’t consumers, but a higher court threw out that decision. Now, the highest court in the land is going to take up the issue.
Not even to round 1
Keep in mind, all the legal fighting so far is about whether the application developers can even bring an antitrust lawsuit. There has been no debate about the actual question: is the App Store a monopoly?
Apple does require that all iPhone/iPad software be sold exclusively through the App Store. And it charges a 30 percent commission. The only exception is subscription software and services, for which the company changes a 15 percent commisssion.
It’s been 7 years and consumers haven’t filed their own lawsuit in support of Apple v. Pepper. This weakens the developers’ argument that Apple’s 30 percent commission is driving up iOS software prices.
It seems that, rather than the public being hurt by Apple’s high commissions, it’s developers.
This isn’t the only case keeping Apple’s lawyers busy. There’s also a growing number of lawsuits related to the MacBook Pro keyboard.