U.S. Supreme Court leans toward allowing Apple App Store antitrust suit

US Supreme Court to hear Apple's appeal in App Store monopoly case

US Supreme Court to hear Apple's appeal in App Store monopoly case

Now, Apple is petitioning the Supreme Court to throw the case out, again. Instead Robert Pepper and the other iPhone owners in the class-action lawsuit have an issue with the 30 percent commission that Apple takes on app sales.

Lead plaintiff Robert Pepper of Chicago argued that Apple's App Store monopoly leads to inflated prices because developers have to account for Apple's 30% fee.

But the company says the popularity of software for iPhones and its App Store shouldn't obscure that consumers buys apps from developers, not Apple.

The Supreme Court on Monday weighed whether Apple will have to face a lawsuit by consumers who say the App Store's pricing model violates antitrust laws.

Antitrust cases sometimes, but not always, divide the Supreme Court along ideological lines.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said consumers experience harm through higher prices, but also noted that plaintiffs' basis to sue is murky, because Apple doesn't purchase apps from developers and then resell them to consumers.

Apple and its tech-industry allies say a decision allowing the consumer lawsuit could open other companies that run online marketplaces and platforms to expensive antitrust claims.

Apple said it is acting only as the agent for app developers who sell the apps to consumers through the App Store. The company told the high court it passed $26.5 billion on to developers previous year.

The company said allowing the lawsuit would be unsafe for the e-commerce industry, which increasingly relies on agent-based sales models.

Several justices appeared skeptical of Apple's argument.

Apple was backed by Republican President Donald Trump's administration.

Six justices from both liberal and conservatives wings pushed back against statements by Apple attorneys and the solicitor general, according to Reuters.

The plaintiffs and some anti-monopoly groups disagree.

So as Apple sees it, even if the App Store amounted to an illegal monopoly - and the company insists it isn't - only the app developers could sue, because they're the actual buyers of Apple's distribution service. At that time, Judge Yvonne Rogers ruled in favor (PDF) of Apple, reasoning that end users of the applications were indirect customers are therefore could not be the ones to sue under United States antitrust law.

Developers "cannot risk the possibility of Apple removing them from the App Store if they bring suit", the American Antitrust Institute advocacy group said in a brief.

The suit, filed in federal court in Oakland, California, seeks class-action status and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. While Apple argued that they lacked standing, with a lower court concurring, the case was revived by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who found that the plaintiffs did have standing to sue by virtue of being direct Apple customers.

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