In this case, however, several consumers contend that Apple charges too much for apps. The consumers argue, in particular, that Apple has monopolized the retail market the sale of apps and has unlawfully used its monopolistic power to charge consumers higher-than competitive prices.
A claim that a monopolistic retailer (here, Apple) has used its monopoly to overcharge consumers is a classic antitrust claim. But Apple asserts that the consumer plaintiffs in this case may not sue Apple because they supposedly were not "direct purchasers" from Apple under our decision in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 431 U. S. 720.
We disagree. The plaintiffs purchased apps directly from Apple and therefore are direct purchasers under Illinois Brick. At this early pleadings stage of the litigation, we do not assess the merits of the plaintiffs' antitrust claim against Apple, nor do we consider any other defenses Apple might have. We merely hold that the Illinois Brick direct-purchaser rule does not bar these plaintiffs from suing Apple under the antitrust laws. We affirm the judgment of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2011 by a group that believes that Apple violates federal antitrust laws by requiring apps to sold through its App Store, where it collects a 30 percent commission, leading to inflated prices as developers pass on that cost to the customers. In other words, these users believe that apps would be priced lower outside of the App Store, as Apple's 30 percent cut would not be baked into the prices.
The lawsuit was initially dismissed in 2013 by a California district court due to errors in the complaint, but the case was revived in 2017 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
From the beginning, Apple has argued that it does not set prices for paid apps, and that charging a 30 percent commission on the distribution of paid apps and in-app purchases does not violate antitrust laws in the United States. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Apple.