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Ticketmaster could be open to consumer lawsuits after Supreme Court ruling

Ticketmaster could find itself battling with more class-action lawsuits after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Apple in a suit that claims it violates antitrust laws.

The lawsuit, which has now been forwarded, claims that Apple created a monopoly on its app store by taking a 30 per cent cut of app sales, which forces developers to hike prices. This move effectively passes Apple’s fees onto the consumer, the suit claims.

Prior to this high court ruling, consumers were restricted in being able to sue due to the legal understanding of a 1977 decision, Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, which ruled that only direct purchasers and not indirect purchasers could sue.

In the case of Ticketmaster, customers have not been able to move forward with any lawsuits against them because only venues, which the ticketing giant locks into exclusive contracts, could legally move forward with a case.

The Supreme Court ruling does not accuse Apple of violating antitrust law, but supports the consumers right to sue the tech giant for monopolistic behaviour.

Gene Kimmelman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge and a former antitrust official with the Justice Department, said, according to Ticket News: “It definitely should make tech companies wonder how the antitrust laws will be applied going forward in an online platform environment.”

The Apple lawsuit was initially rejected by a district court because it considered the app developer as the one setting the price and selling directly to the consumer, without considering Apple’s influence in charging developers to access its iTunes App store.

Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court justice appointed last year by President Donald Trump, said, according to CNN: “If a retailer has engaged in unlawful monopolistic conduct that has caused consumers to pay higher-than-competitive prices, it does not matter how the retailer structured its relationship with an upstream manufacturer or supplier – whether, for example, the retailer employed a markup or kept a commission.

“That is why we have antitrust law.”

Ticketmaster have been approached for comment.

Image: Martin Fisch