US Supreme Court sets sights on Apple’s App Store monopoly case

App Store monopoly lawsuit might make Supreme Court. This is the latest chapter in a long-running case involving Apple

Simplicity is supposed to be a selling point for Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

However, the plaintiffs would still have to convince district judges that Apple is exploiting a monopoly, and attempt to prove that the company's 30pc commission has raised app prices. Should the lawsuit succeeed, though, it could have significant repercussions for how Apple operates the App Store in the US. But, in this case, it's different: Apple, the alleged violator, is the one in the middle, Hovenkamp said. Developers earned more than $26 billion in 2017, a 30% increase over 2016, according to Apple. But the plaintiffs appealed and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that they had standing to sue Apple. That decision was designed in part to ensure companies don't have to pay twice for the same misconduct.

The plaintiffs said app developers would be unlikely to sue Apple, which controls the service where they make money, leaving no one to challenge anti-competitive conduct.

But the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case previous year, finding that Apple was a distributor that sold iPhone apps directly to consumers. Additionally, the 30 percent commision that Apple takes means higher app prices for consumers.

It will be several months before the justices hand down a ruling in the case. Well, the App Store would lose all its power in the first place. 'Apple has put itself in the distribution chain, and it makes us deal with Apple in a way no one else does'. The lawsuit accused the Cupertino, California-based technology company of violating federal antitrust laws by requiring apps to be sold through the company's App Store and then taking a 30 percent commission from the purchases. The company's lead Supreme Court lawyer, Dan Wall, declined to discuss the case in advance of the argument.

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The iPhone users, including lead plaintiff Robert Pepper of Chicago, filed the suit in a California federal court in 2011, claiming Apple's monopoly leads to inflated prices compared to if apps were available from other sources. The group says the appeals court ruling threatens to disrupt what has been an innovation-friendly system for developers and platforms.

"They happen to be the largest company in the world, or at least they were some weeks ago, and they are able to extract monopoly pricing by virtue of a unique e-commerce monopoly on their App Store", said Frederick.

That distinction "sounds small" but is 'at the core of a multitrillion-dollar global industry, ' Reed said. And if the Supreme Court allows the lawsuit to go forward, it could be longer than that before there's a verdict. The plaintiffs are backed by the attorneys general of 30 states including California, Texas, Florida and NY.

In other cases, the justices have said there must be a direct relationship between the seller and a party complaining about unfair, anti-competitive pricing.

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