Press Release

Open Markets Applauds Supreme Court in Apple v. Pepper

Washington, D.C. — Today, a five-justice majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Apple v. Pepper. In an opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, the majority held that consumers can sue Apple for damages resulting from the corporation’s monopolization of the sale of iPhone apps. Last October, Open Markets filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs and applauds the Supreme Court for making a decision on behalf of private enforcement of the antitrust laws and, ultimately, open and competitive markets.

In the early days of the iPhone, Apple established the App Store as the monopoly distributor of all apps for the device. Users and developers of iPhone apps must go through Apple’s bottleneck. Apple dictates the terms under which iPhone owners purchase apps and under which iPhone app developers sell their apps. Apple can remove iPhone apps from the App Store and thereby the entire market for any or no reason at all. Open Markets argued in its amicus brief that, under long-standing Supreme Court precedent, iPhone users have the right to bring suit against Apple for harms caused by this retail monopoly.

The court decision, in agreement with our amicus brief, states that purchasers and sellers injured by a monopolist have the right to seek damages: “A retailer who is both a monopolist and a monopsonist may be liable to different classes of plaintiffs… when the retailer’s unlawful conduct affects both the downstream and upstream markets.”

“This is an important win in the public’s fight against monopoly in the tech sector and elsewhere,” said Open Markets Legal Director Sandeep Vaheesan. “The Court followed its own precedent and the plain text of the Clayton Act and rejected Apple’s specious attempt to exempt itself and other monopolists from consumer antitrust suits for damages.”

Press Contact: Stella Roque at Open Markets Institute, [email protected]