USA Today reports:
The Supreme Court opened the door Monday for iPhone users to sue Apple over excessive prices on its exclusive App Store. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the 5-4 opinion and was joined by the court’s four liberal justices. The other four conservatives dissented.
The question before the justices was whether consumers’ beef over prices is with Apple directly or the app developers who pass along the tech giant’s 30 percent commission, as well as its rule that prices end in .99.
“Our cases have consistently stated that direct purchasers from alleged antitrust violators may maintain a suit against the antitrust violaters,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Apple, 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.
Apple had argued that a Supreme Court ruling allowing the case to proceed could pose a threat to e-commerce, a rapidly expanding segment of the U.S. economy worth hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales.
The dispute hinged in part on how the justices would apply a decision the court made in 1977 to the claims against Apple. In that case, the court limited damages for anti-competitive conduct to those directly overcharged rather than indirect victims who paid an overcharge passed on by others.