Apple Appeals App Store Ruling to Supreme Court
Apple has appealed to the Supreme Court to strike down an order requiring changes to its App Store rules, arguing that the lower court orders violate the U.S. Constitution.
The order stems from an antitrust case brought by "Fortnite" owner Epic Games, which alleged that Apple's practice of charging up to 30% commissions on in-app payments on iPhones and other devices violated antitrust rules. Epic lost on those claims at trial in 2021, but a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Apple's practice of banning software developers from telling customers about alternative payment methods violated a California unfair competition law.
After the ruling, the trial court judge ordered that Apple must change those rules for all developers in its U.S. App Store. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the orders, though they remain on hold until the Supreme Court either makes a decision or declines to hear the case.
Apple argues that the lower court orders violate the Constitution because they overstep the powers of a federal judge. Apple argues that the trial judge relied on a case brought by a single developer - rather than a broader class of developers - to justify a nationwide ban, without proving that the nationwide ban was needed to remedy the harm caused to Epic.
Apple writes in its filing with the Supreme Court:
That approach eviscerates the constitutional limitations on federal courts’ authority and, unless corrected by this Court, would render universal injunctions the default remedy in single-plaintiff cases challenging a generally applicable policy.
Epic has also appealed lower court rulings in the case. The Supreme Court will likely decide either late this year or early next year whether to hear the case.
Potential Impact of the Supreme Court's Decision
The Supreme Court's decision in this case could have a significant impact on the App Store and the broader tech industry. If the Supreme Court upholds the lower court orders, it could force Apple and other tech giants to make major changes to their business models.
For example, Apple could be required to allow developers to use alternative payment methods in their apps, without having to pay Apple a commission. This could lead to lower prices for consumers and more competition for Apple.
The Supreme Court's decision could also have implications for other tech giants, such as Google and Amazon, which also operate app stores and charge commissions to developers.
The Supreme Court's decision in this case is highly anticipated and could have a significant impact on the tech industry. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will hear the case and, if so, how it will rule.