To no one’s surprise, Epic Games has urged a federal appeals court to set aside a September ruling that mostly rejected the gaming company’s antitrust challenge to Apple over its App Store, reports Bloomberg.
From the article: Epic told the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that a lower-court judge “erred” in finding that App Store rules and restrictions didn’t violate antitrust law. Epic had shown that “Apple unlawfully maintains its monopolies in the iOS app distribution and in-app payment solutions markets by expressly excluding all competitors,” the game maker said in its filing. Moreover, Apple has “ample economic power to coerce developers” into using its own payment system, Epic said.
Epic asked the court to overrule the ruling and send the case back to U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, with instructions on how to address issues raised in its antitrust suit. “If not reversed, this decision would upend established principles of antitrust law and, as the district court itself recognized, undermine sound antitrust policy,” the game maker said in its filing.
This is all part of an ongoing global legal battle between Apple and Epic. On Aug. 13,2020, Epic Games announced that it had introduced a new direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, allowing players to purchase 1000 V-Bucks for US$7.99 rather than $9.99 through Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism.
Shortly thereafter, Apple removed the gamer from the App Store for violating store polices and followed up by shutting down the company’s developer account. Epic immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In September 2020 Apple filed a countersuit to stop the game maker from using its own payment system for Fortnite. Apple also accused Epic of theft and sought extra monetary damages beyond breach of contract.
In September 2021, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple’s anti-steering conduct is anti-competitive, but ruled in favor of Apple on all other counts.
In a 185-page ruling, Rogers said “the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws,” but she said the trial “did show that Apple is engaging in anticompetitive conduct under California’s competition laws.” Rogers concluded that “Apple’s anti-steering provisions hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice.”
She ruled that Epic Games had to pay damages equal to 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue that it collected from users in the Fortnite app on iOS through the direct payment option between August 2020 and October 2020, plus 30% of any such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020 through the date of judgment, plus interest.
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