Supreme Court says Apple will have to face App Store monopoly lawsuit

The Supreme Court is allowing an antitrust lawsuit to be filed against Apple, and Apple's argument that users of the iOS app store are not really its customers is rejected. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Apple v. Pepper agreeing in a 5-4 decision that buyers of Apple applications could sue the company for allegedly raising prices. "Apple's line drawing does not make much sense, other than as a way to cheat Apple of this and other similar trials," wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Apple had claimed that iOS users were technically buying applications from developers, while the developers themselves were customers of the Apple App Store. According to a previous legal doctrine, "indirect buyers" of a product do not have the right to file antitrust cases. But in today's decision, the Supreme Court ruled that this logic does not apply to Apple.

The court is careful to note that this is an "early stage" of the case, so there is no decision on whether Apple actually has an illegal monopoly on the App Store? But it could have greater ramifications for customers who want to sue any company for antitrust violations, and pave the way for a big battle between Apple and some angry customers.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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