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

Apple,iPhone app fees,Apple iPhone App Fee Lawsuit

Apple,iPhone app fees,Apple iPhone App Fee Lawsuit

Justices sitting on the United States Supreme Court, the States highest Federal court, today seemed likely to allow a hearing against Apple to move forward.

At issue is whether Apple's walled garden approach to its iOS platform - in which developers are pretty much forced to sell their iPhone and iPad software exclusively via Cupertino's official App Store and pay Apple a 30 per cent cut - is artificially raising prices and a violation of U.S. antitrust laws on monopoly control.

The plaintiffs argued that, although developers set the prices of their apps, by charging them a 30 per cent commission on each purchase, and by allowing iOS apps only to be sold through its App Store, Apple has inflated the price of apps for consumers.

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.

If the Supreme Court rules against Apple, consumers then would have standing to sue the company directly in a case potentially affecting millions of iPhone app purchasers.

The report said Justice Stephen Breyer described the consumers' case as being in line with anti-trust law. If the 30 percent commission affects those prices, he said, that's a matter between Apple and the developers.

"Apple is a sales and distribution agent for developers", Apple's lawyers said in a Supreme Court filing.

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The app store is 'really unique, ' said Mark Rifkin, one of the lawyers pressing the suit. The case began in 2011 and was revived previous year.

Lawsuits against companies like these would multiply "and lead to the quagmire this court sought to avoid", Apple told the justices in a legal brief. "From my perspective, I've just engaged in a one-step transaction with Apple", Kagan said.

"Apple directed anticompetitive restraints at iPhone owners to prevent them from buying apps anywhere other than Apple's monopoly App Store", Frederick said.

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.

He is representing a group of consumers, led by Chicagoan Robert Pepper, that wants to show app prices would be lower if not for Apple's actions. Some liberal and conservative justices sharply questioned an attorney for Apple and U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who argued on behalf of the administration on the company's side, over their argument that the consumers were not directly affected by purchasing the apps from Apple.

The suit by iPhone users could force Apple to cut the 30 percent commission it charges software developers whose apps are sold through the App Store. An appeals court reversed the dismissal in 2017, leading to the Supreme Court taking up the matter.

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