U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s Apple App Store decision has ‘shaken up’ antitrust law

“President Donald Trump’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court joined with liberal justices on Monday to green light a consumer class action accusing Apple (AAPL) of monpolizing the market for iPhone apps,” Erin Fuchs writes for Yahoo Finance. “That appointee, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote the majority opinion holding that iPhone owners qualified as “direct purchasers” with the right to sue Apple for allegedly monopolizing the market for apps through its App Store.”

“‘We got an unexpected boost to antitrust enforcement from Justice Kavanaugh,’ says John Kirkwood, a professor of law at Seattle University School of Law and an adviser to the American Antitrust Institute,” Fuchs writes. “Kirkwood noted that Kavanaugh has in the past been pro-defendant in antitrust cases, as are many conservative judges. ‘He’s shaken things up here. He’s not a reliable vote with the other four conservatives,’ Kirkwood said. ‘There’s more chance of future antitrust enforcement victories.’”

“The dispute stems from Apple’s policy of charging a 30% commission fee on every single app sale and barring developers from selling their apps elsewhere. The iPhone consumers who sued claimed that Apple effectively passed that 30% fee onto consumers, who had no choice but to buy those apps on the App Store,” Fuchs writes. “While a lower court still has to decide the merits of the case, the stakes for Apple here are high since its App Store represents a major part of the services business that it’s increasingly relying on as iPhone sales slow down.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Apple released the following statement:

Today’s decision means plaintiffs can proceed with their case in District court. We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric.

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. Developers set the price they want to charge for their app and Apple has no role in that. The vast majority of apps on the App Store are free and Apple gets nothing from them. The only instance where Apple shares in revenue is if the developer chooses to sell digital services through the App Store.

Developers have a number of platforms to choose from to deliver their software — from other apps stores, to Smart TVs to gaming consoles — and we work hard every day to make our store the best, safest and most competitive in the world. — Apple Inc.

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