App Store antitrust suit might make Supreme Court


App Store monopoly lawsuit might make Supreme Court. This is the latest chapter in a long-running case involving Apple.
This is the latest chapter in a long-running case involving Apple.
Photo: Supermac1961/Flickr CC

Apple’s legal team could soon be headed to the Supreme Court to face an antitrust case being levied against the company.

U.S. Supreme Court justices heard an hour of arguments for an antitrust lawsuit against Apple today. The nine justices appeared to be open to letting the lawsuit move up to the highest court. If Apple loses, we could see huge changes in the App Store.

Apple is being accused of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the way applications are installed on the iPhone. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that Apple’s 30 percent cut on all App Store sales cause consumers to overpay.

App Store monopoly?

According to Reuters, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to agree with Apple’s position. He said he’s concerned that if the ruling went against Apple, the company could be liable by both consumers and app developers for a single price increase.

Justice Elena Kagan said that from her perspective, downloading an app is a one-step transaction with Apple.

The entire case could hinge on a ruling from 1977. In that case, the court ruled that damages for anticompetitive conduct can only be awarded to those who were directly overcharged, rather than indirect victims who paid an overcharge passed on by others.

Reason for antitrust lawsuit against Apple

In the current case, lead plaintiff Robert Pepper of Chicago argues that an App Store monopoly leads to inflated prices because developers must account for Apple’s 30 percent fee. The plaintiffs want Apple to open up iOS so apps can be installed from sources other than the App Store. Such a move would certainly compromise the security of iPhones and iPads, though.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco was at the hearing arguing for Apple on behalf of the Trump administration. Apple is also being backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A ruling is expected to come by June at the latest.


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