"Apple posits that allowing only the upstream app developers - and not the downstream consumers - to sue Apple would mean more effective antitrust enforcement", the Supreme Court said in the decision. Those companies, which include Facebook, Google and Amazon, were on Apple's side during the Supreme Court deliberation, and may be affected by the outcome of the antitrust suit. "We merely hold that the Illinois Brick direct-purchaser rule does not bar these plaintiffs from suing Apple under the antitrust laws".
However, while app developers set their own prices, Apple collects the payments.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's other pick, wrote the dissent for four conservative justices in the Apple case.
"The consumers argue, in particular, that Apple has monopolized the retail market for the sale of apps and has unlawfully used its monopolistic power to charge consumers higher-than-competitive prices", the Supreme Court opinion stated.
The case is Apple Inc. v Pepper, 17-204.
The opinion written by the newest court member, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said consumers had a right to pursue their case because they have a direct relationship with Apple. The consumers' complaint against Apple is the kind of case earlier high court rulings said was not allowed under federal laws that prohibit unfair control of a market, Gorsuch wrote.
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Tom's Hardware has reached out to Apple for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
Some of the justices initially seemed skeptical of Apple's claims.
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. The plaintiffs could seek billions of dollars in damages if they win on their claims that Apple required apps be sold through its App Store and extracted an excessive 30 percent commission on purchases.
When an application is purchased, Apple collects a 30 percent commission and gives the other 70 percent to the developer.
The 5-4 decision could spell serious repercussions for one of Apple's most lucrative lines of business, and open the door for similar legal action targeting other tech giants in Silicon Valley.