Reflections on the iPhone XR.

Enlarge / Like other iPhones, the XR is very reflective. (credit: Samuel Axon)

The Supreme Court on Monday wrestled with whether to allow a 40-year-old legal doctrine to derail a class-action lawsuit arguing that Apple uses its monopoly control over the iPhone app market to overcharge customers for apps.

Apple takes a 30 percent cut for every iPhone app sold. Some customers sued in 2011, arguing that Apple is abusing its monopoly by overcharging customers.

But Apple is trying to shut the lawsuit down by arguing that consumers shouldn’t be allowed to sue at all. The company has seized on a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that held that only a company’s direct customers can sue for antitrust violations. In Apple’s view, customers buy apps from developers, who turn around and pay Apple a 30 percent cut. That means that only the developers—not ordinary iPhone users—have standing to sue Apple.

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