Evolving Antitrust Principles in the Age of Big Tech: Supreme Court Allows Antitrust Suit to Move Forward Against Apple
In a recent decision decided on May 13, 2019, the Supreme Court allowed an antitrust suit to move forward against Apple. Consumers brought suit based on Apple’s operation of its App Store – which serves as the exclusive electronic marketplace through which iPhone owners may purchase iPhone applications (“apps”). Independent app developers create these apps, and then contract with Apple in order to make the apps available for purchase to iPhone owners in the App Store. Apple allows app developers to set the retail price, but charges a 30% commission on every app sale. The plaintiffs allege that Apple has unlawfully monopolized the retail market for app sales, and used its market dominance to force iPhone owners into purchasing apps exclusively from Apple while paying Apple’s 30% commission. Apple moved to dismiss, arguing that Illinois Brick’s direct-purchaser rule bars the plaintiffs from suing Apple under the antitrust laws.