Epic Games' antitrust challenge against Apple has been defeated in an appeals court.
Apple and Epic Games have been in a court battle with one another for nearly three years now after Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple related to Apple’s practices in the iOS App Store. As a result of this court battle, Fortnite was removed from the Apple store. and Apple lost $85 billion and sued Epic for breach of contract. According to Bloomberg, Apple won the appeals court ruling upholding its App Store’s policies in an antitrust challenge brought by Epic Games.
The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Apple’s favor by affirming a lower-court Jugde’s decision from 2021, which rejected Epic Game’s claims that Apple is monopolizing its marketplace. The judge’s decision stated that Apple didn’t engage in antitrust behavior and thus isn’t considered a monopoly, but the company has exhibited anticompetitive behavior by enforcing anti-steering restrictions.
Epic Games appealed against the 2021 decision, but the newest ruling comes after Apple has already made significant changes to the App Store policies that largely address various developer concerns. This means that the company’s “walled garden” doesn’t actually violate antitrust laws, making this a decisive victory for Apple in the Apple vs. Epic Games legal battle. Apple spokesperson stated that this ruling affirmed, for the second time, that Apple abides by antitrust laws at both state and federal levels.
However, there’s still one claim stating that Apple’s anti-steering restrictions constitute anticompetitive behavior, but Apple disagrees with the court’s decision on that one point, which is a claim under state law, so the company is considering a further review. So, while Apple celebrates its win, Epic Games is working on the next step because the court’s decision to reject Apple’s anti-steering policies has freed iOS developers to do business with the consumers via the web, effectively escaping Apple’s overbearing 30 percent commission fees.
This legal battle began right after Epic implemented its own payment processor within Fortnite on the iOS version of the game. This allowed the company to collect payments from gamers without having to pay Apple a 30 percent commission for using Apple’s own in-app payment processor, which violated Epic Games’ contract with Apple. Apple responded by removing Fortnite from its digital store, after which Epic sued Apple, alleging that the company had engaged in unfair and anticompetitive actions.
As stated above, the original ruling stated that Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on the mobile app market, and the court ordered Epic Games to compensate Apple for violating the developer’s agreement, but it also ordered the latter to remove its anti-steering rules. This allowed developers to provide information about payment methods other than Apple Pay—a decision to which Apple had already appealed.
Though the majority of the gaming community cheered for Epic Games as the underdog in its fight against Apple, the company isn’t without its faults either. Just a few months back, Epic Games was ordered to pay a ridiculous amount of money for exposing minors to dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues and for its shady practices regarding the company’s refund system—the Fortnite maker ended up refunding players and parents.