IPhone owners can sue Apple for monopolizing App Store

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In a majority opinion written by the American Supreme Court's most recent addition, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh held that "iPhone owners were direct purchasers who may sue Apple for alleged monopolisation".

As per the facts, Apple sells iPhone applications directly to iPhone owners through its App Store, the only place where iPhone owners may lawfully buy apps.

The Google Play store, Apple's chief rival to the App Store, takes a similar cut of up to 30 per cent from developers for app sales. The core of Apple's argument is that, while it maintains the App Store, the prices for apps within it are set by developers.

"A "who sets the price" rule", he wrote, "would draw an arbitrary and unprincipled line among retailers based on retailers' financial arrangements with their manufacturers or suppliers".

In essence, the Supremes decided that: "If the retailer's unlawful monopolistic conduct caused a consumer to pay the retailer a higher-than-competitive price, the consumer is entitled to sue the retailer under the antitrust laws".

The Apple Support app is free and can be found in the App Store; to save you some time, you can find it right here. While the Supreme Court's ruling does allow consumers to sue Apple for how it manages the App Store and controls iOS apps, it's not clear if Apple will be forced to change is business practices just quite yet. To which the company will now have to answer every legal filing against it purported use of market dominance to "artificially inflate" prices on its App Store.

According to Ballotpedia, the case has been batted about between lower courts, first being dismissed and then successfully appealed.

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"We are extremely disappointed in the decision from the US Supreme Court to reward trial lawyers rather than developers", Reed said.

FILE PHOTO: Customers walk past an Apple logo inside of an Apple store at Grand Central Station in NY, U.S., August 1, 2018.

He added, "At this early pleadings stage of the litigation, we do not assess the merits of the plaintiffs' antitrust claims against Apple, nor do we consider any other defenses Apple might have".

Apple defended its stance, arguing that iPhone owners could not sue as they were not direct purchasers from Apple.

Apple's App Store rules are about to come under a lot more scrutiny and that could be bad news for the company. Apple will happily spend some of the billions of dollars it makes through the current system on lawyers in an effort to stretch the case out for another eight years, especially since the legal action as now structured seeks antitrust-grade triple damages.

The plaintiffs, 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.