Implications and Questions Arising From The Supreme Court’s Antitrust Ruling in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper

Click here to read the full article online

On May 13, 2019, the Supreme Court (“the Court”) announced its 5-4 decision in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper, permitting iPhone users to proceed with an antitrust suit against Apple alleging that it monopolized the retail market for iPhone apps. The Court emphasized that it decided only the threshold issue, ruling that the iPhone users were not barred by federal law from bringing the suit, and did not address the merits of the claims. The Court concluded that consumers could bring suit against Apple because they purchased apps directly from Apple—through the Apple App Store— even if app developers (and not Apple) were setting the retail price of the apps. The opinion raises a number of questions about the Supreme Court’s antitrust precedents relating to direct and indirect purchasers, and it may encourage some businesses to re-evaluate the structure of their transactions.