Apple customers can sue for App Store monopoly, rules US Supreme Court

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In a 5-4 ruling, the justices rejected Apple's argument that consumers lacked standing to proceed with their lawsuit because the tech giant was merely an intermediary with app developers. Like Apple, Amazon charges fees to third-party sellers on its platform and lets those sellers set their own prices. This means that, if you're so inclined, you could bring suit against Apple for overcharging you.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

I hate that I'm in a position to say "I agree with Brett Kavanaugh" about anything, but there is some merit to that judgement - Apple is the company with which consumers interface when they buy an app. That potential massive loss in revenue is behind the 5.6 percent drop in Apple's share price this morning, though we note tech stocks in general are down a few per cent today because someone's been tweeting. That's even though Apple - which the Trump administration sided with - tried to claim it doesn't actually sell apps directly to consumers.

"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 wrote.

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In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court sided with four iPhone owners who contend the company has been inflating prices on the App Store -which is now the only official place to download apps for iOS devices. Those companies, which include Facebook, Google and Amazon, were on Apple's side during the Supreme Court deliberation, and may be affected by the outcome of the antitrust suit. That may be coming to a head not just through Apple v. Pepper, but a European Commission investigation sparked by Spotify. That could end up benefiting everyone - well, everyone except Apple.

By a 5-4 margin, the high court chose to uphold a lower court's decision to permit a lawsuit by consumers to go forward. Current antitrust laws allow the plaintiffs to recover three times the amount of damages. But Apple would likely only consider that approach if it felt it was going to lose the case - and by that point, it would probably be too late. It pointed Android users to its website instead.

Whatever happens, it has the potential to get very messy.

The Supreme Court further added that "this is not a case where multiple parties at different levels of a distribution chain are trying to recover the same passed-through overcharge initially levied by the manufacturer at the top of the chain". According to the company, the App Store is the "safest, most secure and trusted platform for customers".

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