“Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed Apple a major defeat in an antitrust case,” Adi Robertson reports for The Verge. “A group of iOS users claimed Apple had unfairly driven up app prices with its locked-down App Store. Apple argued that the users had no right to sue since they were actually buying apps from developers instead of Apple. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, speaking for a majority of the court, disagreed.”
“The new ruling establishes that app buyers are Apple’s direct customers, giving them the right to proceed with their antitrust case,” Robertson reports. “This doesn’t have any immediate consequences for Apple because there’s still a long legal fight ahead. But if the plaintiffs’ case holds up, it could change the relationship between digital platforms and their users, giving customers the basic right to sue tech platforms for violating antitrust law.”
“The plaintiffs want Apple to offer partial refunds on all paid iPhone apps, as Rifkin puts it, to compensate ‘all the purchasers, wherever they may be, who bought iPhone apps for their iPhones at any time since the phone was introduced in 2007.’ They also want Apple to allow some alternative method of buying apps,” Robertson reports. “Morgan Reed, president of industry group The App Association, argues that yesterday’s ruling could result in onerous lawsuits that won’t ultimately help consumers. Reed points to the Supreme Court’s dissenting opinion, where Justice Neil Gorsuch claimed platforms might try to avoid the ‘direct seller’ label with inefficient workarounds, like making developers handle their own payments and then write a check to Apple.”
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