LegalNews

Epic still wants to take its antitrust battle against Apple to the Supreme Court

And so it continues: Apple wants Epic Games to pay US$73.4 million in legal fees after Apple won the antitrust case brought against it by the games maker.

After losing on nearly every count against Apple in lower courts and appeals venues, Epic is taking its last shot at prevailing on its antitrust case to the Supreme Court, reports AppleInsider.

On July 27, Epic filed a request asking the nation’s highest court to lift a July 17 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to pause its ruling that upheld an injunction against Apple. The decision gave Apple 90 days to pursue an appeal at the Supreme Court.

Earlier in JulyApple was granted a motion putting a hold on the appeals court ruling that would push the company to undo its “anti-steering” rules and let outside developers link to third-party payment mechanisms.

Anti-steering rules limit how developers can direct users to subscription or in-app purchase payments outside Apple’s App Store ecosystem, where it takes a cut of revenue. A district court found that Apple had not generally violated antitrust law with its “walled garden” approach to iOS, but it ordered it to drop rules against letting developers include “calls to action” for outside payment methods.

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. 

Despite all of that, Epic is ready to challenge Apple again by bringing the case to the Supreme Court for review. In a court document reviewed by AppleInsider, Epic has filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the antitrust case and its ruling.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.