U.S. Appeals Court says Apple can be sued for monopolizing the iOS app industry, reversing earlier decision

According to Reuters, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that users have the right to sue Apple over allegations that the company has created a monopoly in the app industry by only allowing iOS users to install applications from the first-party App Store.

The ruling is a reversal of the decision reached by a lower court in 2013, which sided with Apple.

For its defense, Apple argued that it was renting out space in the App Store, thus meaning that users did not have the right to sue in the first place. Apple stated that, because the app developers themselves set the price, they are the ones responsible for any lawsuits, but the appeals court overruled that.

The case originated in 2012 when Apple was challenged for its practice of only allowing users to only run apps from the App Store, thus having been approved by the company itself. The issue brought forth in the original case, titled Pepper et al v. Apple Inc, alleged that Apple’s practice of restricting the iOS App Store leads to a lack of competition and higher app prices.

Today’s ruling doesn’t speak on that allegation, though. Instead, it simply rules that iOS users have the right to sue. Now that the decision concerning the right to sue has been reached, the original case can move forward.

An attorney for the plaintiffs in the case explained to Reuters that the goal here is for Apple to open up the app ecosystem to allow users to be able to buy and download apps from third-party sources. That outcomes seems incredibly unlikely seeing the security issues that surround it, but a damages payment is also suggested:

But if the challenge ultimately succeeds, “the obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices,” Mark C. Rifkin, an attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz representing the group of iPhone users, told Reuters in an interview.

“The other alternative is for Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has utilized its monopoly.”

There’s currently no date set for a decision on the original case of whether or not Apple has monopolized the iOS app market, but it will now move forward thanks to today’s ruling.

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