The company invoked a 1970s case called Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, which prevents “indirect purchasers” from filing antitrust suits.

The court (in a 5-4 majority) decided that using an app store was fundamentally different from passing a product down a traditional supply chain.

The iPhone owners pay the alleged overcharge directly to Apple.

Apple argued that its commission system still distinguished it from a direct seller, but the court said this was just splitting hairs.

Then it goes back to a lower district court where both parties will start discovery.

The company detailed some arguments in a statement yesterday, asserting that “the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric.” It insists that locking down the App Store helps Apple protect users’ privacy and security and that developers can sell the same apps on lots of different devices — including Android phones, TVs, and gaming consoles.

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