The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple to allow customers to sue the company for allegedly driving up prices with monopolistic practices.
The Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Apple v. Pepper, suggesting that App Store customers are buying directly from Apple, and that Apple isn't just a go-between for customers and developers. Specifically, it allows for suits from iPhone owners who believe that Apple's 30% sales commissions could be driving up app prices, especially as there is no other lawful way to get apps on iOS.
"Apple’s line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion. The arguments in full can be found here.
"Today’s decision means plaintiffs can proceed with their case in District court. We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric," Apple said in a statement to CNBC.?
Apple's store is far from the only one that takes a cut from developers. Valve Corporation takes a?similar 30 percent cut?from game sales on its Steam platform, though it offers further incentives for higher sales. Google, too, takes a 30 percent cut from its Play Store. But in both cases - PC games and Android apps - there are alternatives for getting the products on the platform, so it's unclear how this could affect other companies with online stores.
The Court did not, however, rule that Apple's App Store is a monopoly. It only ruled that lawsuits may go forward.
"The sole question presented at this early stage of the case is whether these consumers are proper plaintiffs for this kind of antitrust suit," the majority opinion reads.
As of this writing, Apple's stock is down 4.9% percent on the news.
Update May 13, 3:18 p.m: Added statement from Apple.