The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on an antitrust case alleging that Apple created a monopoly with its App Store, which makes Apple the exclusive distributor of apps for the iPhone and takes a cut of app sale prices.

Bottom line: If Apple is found guilty of engaging in monopolistic behavior in what it charges developers to carry their apps in its App Store, Apple could be forced to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers purchasing the apps.

At issue: Apple charges developers a $99 annual fee to register their apps with the App store, in addition to a 30% commission on every app sale. A group of consumers that filed the original suit in 2011 claims those fees end up increasing app prices for consumers. A lower court found the developers did not have the legal standing to bring the class action lawsuit, but a judge later overturned that decision.

The bigger picture: Any case over claims that a U.S. tech giant is engaged in monopolistic behavior is bound to get a lot of attention these days. And the suit takes aim at the concept of "walled garden" ecosystems, has could impact just about every large tech company in some way.

Go deeper:

  • Supreme Court will hear Apple's appeal about iPhone App Store antitrust suit (AppleInsider)
  • The Supreme Court will hear an iOS App Store antitrust lawsuit (The Verge)
  • Apple Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review on iPhone App Fee Suit (Bloomberg)

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