Epic Games Takes Fight Against Apple to the Supreme Court
We haven’t heard the last of Epic’s crusade against Apple over the iPhone maker’s App Store fees.
In a significant development, Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite and operator of the Epic Games Store, filed a cert petition with the Supreme Court on Wednesday. This move has set things in motion for the highest court in the land to reexamine whether Apple’s software business violates federal antitrust laws.
A Protracted Legal Battle
The legal battle between Epic Games and Apple has been ongoing for nearly five years. In 2020, Epic Games initiated a lawsuit against Apple after the tech giant removed Fortnite from its App Store. This action by Apple was a response to Epic Games intentionally breaking App Store rules by introducing a direct payment option for Fortnite’s in-game currency, thus circumventing Apple’s fees. This incident marked the beginning of Epic Games’ campaign to rally developers against Apple’s longstanding software practices.
Apple’s Previous Victory and Epic’s Partial Win
In a previous round of litigation, Apple emerged as the winner. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of a federal judge’s decision, dismissing Epic Games’ argument that Apple violates federal antitrust laws by preventing alternative software markets on iOS. However, the federal judge did rule that Apple violated California’s Unfair Competition Law by restricting developers from informing consumers about alternative payment options, giving Epic Games a minor victory. The appeals court affirmed this decision.
Heading to the Supreme Court
Now, the ongoing legal fight has reached the doorstep of the Supreme Court. Epic Games has requested that developers be allowed to direct iPhone users towards payment options other than Apple’s App Store. However, Justice Elena Kagan rejected this request in August, effectively maintaining Apple’s existing rules unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
The stage is set for a potential Supreme Court battle between Epic Games and Apple. It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court will select the case, thereby reopening the legal battle between these two corporate giants.