周一，美国最高法院(US Supreme Court)为iPhone用户提起的一桩具有里程碑意义的反垄断诉讼铺平了道路。这些用户主张，苹果(Apple)为应用筑起的“围墙花园”是反竞争的。
美国最高法院以5票对4票做出判决，意见书由最高法院大法官布雷特•卡瓦诺(Justice Brett Kavanaugh)起草。判决裁定，用户可就苹果向在其应用商店(App Store)发售应用的开发者抽取30%佣金起诉苹果。
2017年，苹果向美国最高法院提起上诉，请求最高法院依据1977年伊利诺伊砖业案(Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois)的先例驳回对苹果的诉讼。伊利诺伊砖业案的法庭意见确立，只有产品的直接购买者可以依据联邦反垄断法就被人为抬高的价格寻求3倍损害赔偿。
以下为此文英文原文：US Supreme Court rules against Apple in App Store dispute
The US Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a landmark antitrust lawsuit filed by iPhone owners who argued that Apple’s “walled garden” for apps is anti-competitive.
In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court said customers could sue Apple over the 30 per cent commission it charges developers who want to sell apps through its App Store.
The ruling may have far-reaching consequences for Apple, which bans customers from buying apps outside its App Store, and for other companies that operate online marketplaces.
Apple shares were down more than 5 per cent at midday in New York amid wider market weakness caused by the escalating trade war with China.
Mr Kavanaugh, a staunch conservative and recent appointee of President Donald Trump, joined with the liberals on the court to deliver what he called a “straightforward” ruling built on Apple’s direct relationship with its customers.
“The iPhone owners purchase apps directly from the retailer Apple, who is the alleged antitrust violator. The iPhone owners pay the alleged overcharge directly to Apple. The absence of an intermediary is dispositive,” he wrote in the court’s majority opinion.
In a statement, Apple said that the App Store was “not a monopoly by any metric”, adding: “We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented.”
Developers set prices in the App Store “and Apple has no role in that”, it said. “Developers have a number of platforms to choose from to deliver their software — from other apps stores, to Smart TVs to gaming consoles — and we work hard every day to make our store the best, safest and most competitive in the world.”
The question before the court was whether iPhone owners could claim damages for alleged price inflation caused by a 30 per cent commission, even though the fee is levied upon developers, rather than consumers directly.
The case began as a class-action lawsuit filed in 2011. The plaintiffs, led by Robert Pepper, argued that Apple had unlawfully monopolised the sale of iPhone apps by requiring customers to use its App Store.
The lawsuit was thrown out by a district court in California, but that decision was later reversed by the Ninth Circuit appeals court.
In 2017, Apple filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to block the lawsuit on the basis of a 1977 precedent set in a case called Illinois Brick, which said only the direct buyers of a product could seek triple damages for inflated prices under federal antitrust law.
The company had argued the precedent meant that in this case the plaintiffs should only be able to sue developers, who set the price of their individual apps, rather than Apple itself.
Mr Kavanaugh said Apple’s arguments were “not persuasive economically or legally”.
He wrote: “Apple’s theory would provide a road map for monopolistic retailers to structure transactions with manufacturers or suppliers so as to evade antitrust claims by consumers and thereby thwart effective antitrust enforcement.”