ANTITRUST-STANDING

June 19th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Justice Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the court. In 2007, Apple started selling iPhones. The next year, Apple launched the retail App Store, an electronic store where IPhone users can purchase IPhone applications from Apple. Those apps enable IPhone owners to send messages, take photos, watch videos, buy clothes, order food, arrange transportation, purchase concert tickets, donate to charities, and the list goes on. There is an app that has become part of the 21st Century American Lexicon. 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 for the sales 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. vs. Illinois, 431 U.S. 720, 745-746 (1977). 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 claims 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. Apple Inc. vs. Pepper, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 3397.