Supreme Court rules against Apple in App Store antitrust case

“The Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-4 against Apple in a case involving its signature electronic marketplace, the App Store, allowing iPhone users to move forward with their suit against the company,” Tucker Higgins reports for CNBC. “The opinion was authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”

“Shares of Apple, already battered by trade concerns, were down more than 5%, lagging the broader market,” Higgins reports.

Apple Supreme Court ruling by on Scribd

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, for better or worse, likely the latter, here we go! When all is said and litigated, Apple users’ security could be the biggest victim, but we think the ultimate ending to this legal challenge will be that developers will be able to take payments in their apps without being forced to give Apple a cut or as much of a cut as today.

Companies that currently are large enough to work around Apple and send users to their own sites for payment include Amazon and Netflix. Apple will likely need to end this practice and allow all developers to allow users to subscribe to services, buy ebooks, etc. within their apps without a 15%-30% fee. A smaller fee may be tenable, as Apple does have costs to run the App Store, of course. We’ll see after the legal gears grind glacially and eventually spit out their end results.

By the way: On every iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini box, the potential buyer is informed of requirements, including “iTunes X.x or later required for some features” and also that an “iTunes Store account” is required. The plaintiffs were informed of the requirements prior to purchase. If the plaintiffs didn’t like the terms that came along with Apple devices, they should have opted for a pretend iPhone from any one of a dime-a-dozen handset assemblers. Then they could blissfully infest their fake iPhones with malware from a variety of sources.

Note also that Apple doesn’t set the prices for paid apps.

Lastly, the amount by which Apple Inc. has driven down software prices across the board, on every major computing platform, makes legal actions such as this eminently laughable.

Antitrust, the App Store, and Apple – November 27, 2018
Trump administration backs Apple in U.S. Supreme Court over App Store antitrust suit – November 26, 2018
Apple defends App Store fees in U.S. Supreme Court – November 26, 2018
Apple defends App Store fees as U.S. Supreme Court weighs consumer suit – November 23, 2018
Apple wants U.S. Supreme Court to undo previous decision regarding an antitrust suit – October 31, 2018
U.S. Supreme Court will decide if Apple’s App Store is an anti-competitive monopoly – June 19, 2018
U.S. Supreme Court to consider Apple appeal in antitrust suit over App Store prices – June 18, 2018
US DOJ sides with Apple over App Store antitrust allegations in Supreme Court brief – May 10, 2018
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revives antitrust lawsuit against Apple – January 13, 2017
Apple App Store antitrust complaint dismissed on procedural grounds by U.S. judge – August 16, 2013


    1. I’m not surprised at all. The Chief Justice is a strong believer in providing a predictable justice system in which everyone can know, in advance, what is legally acceptable and what is not. The key to that is the consistency of the judiciary in following its own precedents.

      Roberts is a true conservative, not a right- or left-wing activist. So he believes that tradition is valuable and that change for the sake of change is harmful to the rule of law. So, he has strongly supported the notion that existing precedents should be followed unless they are overturned by a new statute or a new executive order authorized by statute.

      When the Congress has adopted a law, it should not be overturned unless it is plainly inconsistent with the established meaning of the Constitution. When an executive agency interprets a statute that it has the legal duty to administer, its interpretation should be sustained unless it is plainly inconsistent with established law. When the courts have consistently interpreted a statute or constitutional provision in a particular way, that should stand absent a substantial change in circumstances.

      In this case, there was a Supreme Court holding directly on point, Illinois Brick, that supported Apple’s position. It is not surprising that the Chief Justice and his consistently conservative colleagues voted to sustain that precedent rather than to make new law. That also happened to be favorable to Big Business, but at least in the Chief’s case that was very much a secondary consideration.

      We already knew that Justice Kavenaugh was a judicial activist formed in the Federalist Society mold to reject precedent in favor of his own personal reading of the “text” of a law or constitutional provision, as if it were possible to reconstruct from those isolated words alone the original intent of the drafters. Because he is such a clever fellow, he is more likely to get it right than all the judges who have seen the law before him. Indeed, the “original intent” expressed in the bare words of the text should be interpreted by the judiciary without worrying about the legislative history that might suggest what the drafters actually did intend. That is what makes him a “textualist” and “originalist.”

      Justice Kavenaugh has also written that he would reject the precedents allowing the Executive Branch authority to resolve statutory ambiguities in laws within their expertise. Because judges are such clever fellows (and completely unanswerable to the electorate), we need them to rule on such matters outside their expertise. I expected it to take longer for Judge Kavenaugh to actually start voting in accordance with his radically activist views, but he has hit the ground running.

  1. Apparently the conservative majority on the Supreme Court does not agree with the long precedent of MDN takes, that Apple is the mall and the developers are the sellers.

    1. Sparkles, the four justices with a conservative track record all dissented from this opinion. Kavenaugh voted with the four who are generally regarded as liberal.

      1. You are correct and I apologize for making that assumption. I should have known better. I was trying to make a lame joke about years of MDN takes, and, because I was careless, it fell flat.

  2. A great Judgement conclusion and I would agree it is correct but the semantics although important in law will still come up against the proof of loss and I’m assuming Apple might be asked to justify the 30% cut which the plaintiff are gaming is causing the high prices (so many free and .99p apps available lol)
    Apple should in the end win due to the amount of server access that is required to run the App Store for all users weather purchasing or not and so they only take a cut on those that sell while making available all apps from all developers for free until such sale occurs.

    But really this is all about lawyers gaming the system for money for a pointless fight.

    I would suggest there will be an attempt to settle in favour of the lawyers pushing this case as it’s a bag of knots that will take years to unravel but Apple would still be correct in their model in the end.

  3. While I can agree with most of what MDN is saying here, “By the way: On every iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini box, the potential buyer is informed of requirements, including “iTunes X.x or later required for some features” and also that an “iTunes Store account” is required. ” <- is not in contention. The same requirements will probably exist in any 3rd party iOS App store that may pop up in the future. What is up for trial is the current enforcement of a single App store controlled by a single corporate entity to the exclusion of other potential marketplaces.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.