A district court decision had said that the iPhone users did not have standing to bring their antitrust claim because the developers - not Apple - are the ones selling the apps. "We merely hold that the Illinois Brick direct-purchaser rule does not bar these plaintiffs from suing Apple under the antitrust laws".
The app market is a tightly-controlled system. iPhones are programmed so they can not download apps outside the Apple-administered App Store, and users who modify their devices to download apps from other sources - called jailbreaking - risk adverse consequences like voiding their warranty.
There has been exponential growth in the availability of apps since Apple created the App Store in 2008 with 500 choices.More news: Pakistan To Get $6 Billion From IMF Over Next Three Years
The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers can proceed, the Washington Post reported. In addition, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of every sale, which the lawsuit alleged was passed down to consumers in the form of overpriced apps.
"Apple's theory would provide a roadmap for monopolistic retailers to structure transactions with manufacturers or suppliers so as to evade antitrust claims by consumers and thereby thwart effective antitrust enforcement", Kavanaugh wrote.
Kavanaugh's stance with the liberal wing of the court was striking. Apple's pushback brought the matter to the Supreme Court, though only to decide whether the case can continue, not its final outcome.More news: ISIL claims 'province' in India, officials call it 'propaganda'
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.
The court's decision did not make any ruling on the merits of the case. This will allow the suits to go forward, and they could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Apple has argued that they are not a monopoly as consumers could always purchase apps from other app stores by buying another device, a somewhat ridiculous position.More news: Rage 2 Gets its Launch Trailer Early
"The sole question presented at this early stage of the case is whether these consumers are proper plaintiffs for this kind of antitrust suit", the majority opinion reads.