May 13, 2019— The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kellogg Hansen’s clients in one of the most significant victories for private antitrust plaintiffs in the Court’s recent history, Apple Inc. v. Pepper, et al.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court found that iPhone owners may sue Apple as direct purchasers under § 4 of the Clayton Act and Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 431 U.S. 720 (1977), for monopolizing the market for iPhone apps.  The Court noted that “[t]he plaintiffs seek to hold retailers to account if the retailers engage in unlawful anticompetitive conduct that harms consumers who purchase from those retailers.  That is why we have antitrust law.”  The ruling affirmed the January 2017 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that “Plaintiffs are direct purchasers from Apple within the meaning of Illinois Brick and therefore have standing.”

The Kellogg Hansen team included partners David Frederick, Aaron Panner, and Gregory Rapawy, and associate Benjamin Softness. Mr. Frederick argued on behalf of the consumers before the Supreme Court, and issued the following statement about the opinion:

“We’re gratified the Supreme Court today recognized the right of consumers to sue Apple for the damages they sustain from Apple’s monopoly control over the distribution of applications on iPhones. The decision is important for upholding consumer protections against the dangers of monopoly retailers like Apple.  Apple’s monopoly control has distorted the prices for apps and it’s time for that abuse of monopoly power to end.”  

The case is Apple Inc. v. Pepper, et al., No. 17-204 (U.S.).