A group of iPhone owners has accused Apple of violating USA antitrust rules, and today the Supreme Court ruled that the group is within its legal right to sue the company. Apple has argued that developers are the ones who set prices, and that it's not in violation of any antitrust laws.
In 2011, the group of iPhone users accused Apple of violating antitrust rules by unfairly taking a 30 percent commission on sales in its app marketplace.
In this case, unlike in Illinois Brick, the iPhone owners are not consumers at the bottom of a vertical distribution chain who are attempting to sue manufacturers at the top of the chain.
Apple said the consumers were indirect purchasers, at best, because any overcharge would be passed on to them by developers.
The company, backed by the Trump administration, argued that it was only acting as an agent for app developers, who set their own prices and pay Apple's commission.
The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers can proceed, the Washington Post reported.
"Apple's line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits", Kavanaugh, who was recently appointed to the bench by President Donald Trump, wrote in the court's opinion.
"Apple posits that allowing only the upstream app developers - and not the downstream consumers - to sue Apple would mean more effective antitrust enforcement", the Supreme Court said in the decision.
We're proud to have created the safest, most secure and trusted platform for customers and a great business opportunity for all developers around the world.
"If, as plaintiffs contend, Apple's 30% commission is a monopolistic overcharge, then the app developers have a claim against Apple to recover whatever portion of the commission they did not pass on to consumers", he wrote.
"We all have apps on our phones: some for free and some you buy from Apple".
The case is Apple Inc. v Pepper, 17-204. The court's four liberals seemed to agree during the November deliberations, and all four liberals wound up voting against Apple in Monday's ruling.
"To evade the court's test, all Apple must do is amend its contracts", Gorsuch wrote. Apple also claimed that because they don't set the retail price of the apps on the store, iPhone users can not sue them.
The former judge recounted that Kavanaugh had said during his controversial confirmation hearings previous year that he was "not a monolithic anything" and that he listened to the facts and then decided how the law should apply.