A PYMNTS Company

US: Justices skeptical of Apple in case about iPhone apps’ sales

 |  November 26, 2018

The Supreme Court seemed ready Monday, November 26, to allow a lawsuit to go forward that claims Apple has unfairly monopolized the market for the sale of iPhone apps, reported Bloomberg Law.

The court heard arguments in Apple’s effort to shut down an antitrust lawsuit. Chief Justice John Roberts was alone among the nine justices who seemed prepared to agree with Apple.

The suit by iPhone users could force Apple to cut the 30% commission it charges software developers whose apps are sold exclusively through Apple’s App Store. A judge could triple the compensation to consumers under antitrust law if Apple ultimately loses the suit.

But the issue before the high court at this early stage of the suit is whether the case can proceed at all. Justice Stephen Breyer, who used to teach antitrust law at Harvard Law School, said the consumers’ case seemed straightforward and in line with a century of antitrust law.

Apple argues it’s merely a pipeline between app developers and consumers. The developers set the prices and agree to pay Apple a 30% commission on whatever they sell, the lawyer representing Apple said in the courtroom. According to Bloomberg quoting Daniel Wall, a lawyer for Apple, if anyone should be able to sue the Cupertino, California-based company, it’s a developer. “There have been plenty of disputes, not one has gone to litigation,” he said.

But Justice Elena Kagan said it appears that consumers have a direct relationship with Apple. “I pick up my iPhone, go to the Apple App Store, pay Apple directly with credit card information I supplied to Apple,” Kagan said.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said if consumers are paying more than they should, then perhaps they should be able to sue. The relevant federal antitrust law says “any person injured” can sue, Kavanaugh said.

Full Content: Bloomberg
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