A U.S. Appeals Court today revived an antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple in 2012 for allegedly monopolizing the iPhone app market with their App Store. The lawsuit claims Apple created an illegal monopoly because customers are not allowed to buy iPhone apps outside of the App Store.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling revives a long-simmering legal challenge originally filed in 2012 taking aim at Apple’s practice of only allowing iPhones to run apps purchased from its own App Store. A group of iPhone users sued saying the Cupertino, California, company’s practice was anticompetitive.
The case is Pepper et al v. Apple Inc., case number 4:11-cv-06714 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The case alleges that by not allowing iPhone users to purchase their apps from third-party sources, Apple eliminated any price competition, leading to higher app prices.
Apple had successfully requested the original lawsuit be dismissed, using the common sense argument that developers set the prices for the apps, and Apple merely provides the platform being used to sell the apps.
Today’s ruling said because customers purchase the apps from Apple, they have a right to file a lawsuit against the Cupertino firm.
The courts have yet to address the substance of the iPhone users’ allegations; up this point, the wrangling has been over whether they have the right to sue Apple in the first place.
But if the challenge ultimately succeeds, “the obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices,” Mark C. Rifkin, an attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz representing the group of iPhone users, told Reuters in an interview. “The other alternative is for Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has utilized its monopoly.”
Apple has yet to comment on the ruling.