Apple’s antitrust case over monopolizing the market for iPhone apps goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, when the nine justices will hear arguments from Apple lawyers as to why the company shouldn’t pay damages in the lawsuit.
According to a report in Reuters, ultimately the judges will decide if consumers can sue for damages in an antitrust lawsuit. Apple is accused of running afoul of antitrust laws by taking a commission from any app sales via its app store. Apple is appealing a lower court decision that sided with the iPhone users who filed a class action lawsuit. The users contend Apple violated the law by monopolizing sales of apps that consumers had to pay for, which in turn raises the prices compared to apps that were available outside of the App Store. The question is whether the developers recoup the 30 percent commission they pay Apple by passing it on to the consumer in the form of a higher price. Developers made $26 billion last year, which was up 30 percent from the year earlier, reported Reuters.
Apple contends that if the Supreme Court sides with the iPhone users it would hurt the eCommerce market, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. retail sales each year. The plaintiffs and antitrust groups argue that if the Supreme Court sides with Apple it will enable more monopolistic behavior by companies, reported Reuters. “A lot of tech platforms will start making the argument that consumers don’t have the standing to bring antitrust suits against us,” said Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director for the Open Markets Institute, a Washington-based antitrust advocacy group in the report. “Uber could say, we’re just providing communication services to ride-sharing drivers. If there’s an antitrust issue, the drivers can bring a claim, but passengers do not have standing.” Apple had sought to get the claim tossed out, arguing plaintiffs don’t have the required legal standing to sue Apple. It also said that if the lawsuit is allowed to proceed it could be dangerous to the eCommerce market because it relies on marketplaces. It pointed to StubHub, eBay and Amazon’s Marketplace as examples. It said lawsuits against eCommerce companies would likely increase leading to a “quagmire this court sought to avoid,” Apple told the justices in a legal brief, reported Reuters.