Supremes listen to Apple anti-trust case

Supreme Court

Apple approaches US Supreme Court to block customers from suing it for monopoly abuse

Chief Justice John Roberts appeared most sympathetic to Apple's case during the hour-long oral argument.

The plaintiffs in the class action suit against Apple claim that app developers add Apple's 30% take into the price that consumers pay for apps. The App Store generated more than $11 billion in revenue for the company in 2017.

Apple said it's hopeful the Supreme Court will uphold existing legal precedent by finding in favor of the company and recognizing its critical role as a marketplace for apps.

The Supreme Court is considering whether Apple's App Store is a monopoly and if consumers can sue the company over it. A judge could triple the compensation to consumers under antitrust law if Apple ultimately loses the lawsuit. If the 30 percent commission affects those prices, he said, that's a matter between Apple and the developers.

But the lawsuit says the Cupertino, California-based company exerts a lot of control over the process, including a requirement that prices end in.99.

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Apple's pricing policies for iPhone apps bought on its exclusive App Store ran into trouble Monday at the Supreme Court.

"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.

Apple says it does not own or sell the apps.

"This is a closed loop", Justice Sonia Sotomayor told a lawyer for Apple.

Apple is being accused of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the way applications are installed on the iPhone. They said that app developers would be unlikely to sue because they would not want to bite the hand that feeds them, leaving no one to challenge anti-competitive conduct.

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Justice Elena Kagan said she believed she was buying directly from Apple when she used her credit card on an iPhone to buy an app. "From my perspective, I've just engaged in a one-step transaction with Apple". For 40 years, the courts have held that when there's an illegal monopoly, only the direct purchaser can sue for damages.

Apple is supported by Apple fanboy President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump's administration.

A group of iPhone owners brought the suit and accuse Apple of forcing customers to over-pay for apps, which can only be purchased through its store.

Apple said it is acting only as the agent for app developers who sell the apps to consumers through the App Store. But the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case past year, finding that Apple was a distributor that sold iPhone apps directly to consumers.

The iPhone users, including lead plaintiff Robert Pepper of Chicago, have argued that Apple's monopoly leads to inflated prices compared to if apps were available from other sources.

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