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WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) ― The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave the go-ahead for a lawsuit by consumers accusing Apple Inc of monopolizing the market for iPhone software applications and forcing them to overpay, rejecting the company’s bid to escape claims that its practices violate federal antitrust law.
Apple shares fell more than 5% after the justices, in a 5-4 ruling, upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the proposed class action lawsuit to proceed. The plaintiffs said the Cupertino, California-based technology company required apps be sold through its App Store and extracted an excessive 30 percent commission on purchases.
Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of President Donald Trump, joined the court’s four liberal justices to rule against Apple and wrote the decision.
Explaining the ruling from the bench, Kavanaugh said, “Leaving consumers at the mercy of monopolistic retailers simply because upstream suppliers could also sue the retailers would directly contradict the longstanding goal of effective private enforcement in antitrust cases.”
The company, backed by the Trump administration, argued that it was only acting as an agent for app developers, who set their own prices and pay Apple’s commission. 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 U.S. economy worth hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales.
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