Apple's App Store features more than two million apps and generated more than $26 billion in payments to developers in 2017, according to The New York Times.
FILE- In this May 31, 2018, file photo customers enter the Apple store in NY.
Apple argued it is just a conduit between app developers and customers and that it is the developers who set the prices. The company argued that consequently only app developers, not consumers themselves, could not sue Apple.
However, plaintiffs claim that they had paid using Apple's system when they bought apps from the App Store, therefore they are classified as direct victims of Apple's extremely high levies.
Apple is also under scrutiny by Dutch antitrust authorities over complaints about commissions in European markets.
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Rifkin said he was gratified by the court's decision, which "reaffirmed the straightforward principle that consumers who purchase a monopolized product directly from the alleged monopolist may sue the monopolist to recover the full amount of the overcharge they are forced to pay by reason of the monopoly". It said a ruling in favour of Apple would have prevented users from taking action against monopolistic retailers who received commissions on sales. Apple had argued that a Supreme Court ruling allowing the case to proceed could pose a threat to e-commerce, a rapidly expanding segment of the USA economy worth hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales.
The state of Illinois had claimed in the 1977 decision that Illinois Brick Co. had engaged in a conspiracy to set the price of concrete blocks.
A dissenting opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by other conservatives on the court agreed with Apple's argument that developers, not the company, sell to consumers and that the lawsuit is based on "pass-on" liability. Developers can create apps and publish them in the App Store with a $99 account.
The ruling comes amid a growing backlash against major tech companies that dominate key segments of the online economy.
As iPhone sales continue to tumble, Apple and its shareholders have been looking into improving the company's App Store revenues to compensate.
This issue originally started in 2011 when some iPhone users claimed that App Store prices would be lower in an open market. They were supported by 30 state attorneys general, including from Texas, California and NY. According to this "Illinois brick doctrine", only direct purchasers of the products are entitled to sue for antitrust damages. Apple had warned that this could pose a threat to e-commerce, a rapidly expanding segment of the US economy worth hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales.