US: Feds to argue at SCOTUS Apple App Store case

The US Supreme Court granted the Solicitor General’s request to argue in a private case that consumers can’t sue Apple for monopolizing its “App Store.”

In an October 1 order, the high court agreed to allow Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s request to split time with Apple during oral argument in Apple v. Pepper. The argument date hasn’t been set yet. The case is the only one interpreting antitrust law that the Supreme Court has so far agreed to hear this term.

The government can ask to argue part of private cases in front of the justices, but it’s not a regular occurrence. It happened last term when the Solicitor General argued with the states that American Express violates antitrust laws when it bars merchants from asking customers to use credit cards with lower swipe fees. The court found in favor of American Express.

In this case, Francisco filed a brief at the court’s invitation supporting Apple’s position that app users’ complaints should be thrown out. A district court dismissed claims by consumers that Apple fixed prices for apps in its App Store, but the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated them.

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