Epic Games v. Apple: A Verdict with No Clear-Cut Winners

NEWS

26 Sep 2021

This is our sixth update in relation to the legal dispute concerning Epic Games and Apple.

Our First Article, Second Article, Third Article, Fourth Article and Fifth Article are accessible via the direct links provided.

Late last year a suit was initiated by Epic Games against Apple following a ban on popular online video game Fortnite, developed by Epic Games. The video game was blocked as a result of Epic Games creating its own in-app payment system engineered to avoid Apple’s 30% cut from in-app purchases. Epic Games initiated a suit against Apple arguing that this practice was monopolistic and that the company was engaging in anti-competitive practices by only permitting payments to be made solely through the App Store.

In her verdict U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers stated that “The Court does not find that Apple is an antitrust monopolist in the submarket for mobile gaming transaction.” She continued to state that the Court does “however, […] find that Apple’s conduct in enforcing anti-steering restrictions is anticompetitive.

Kate Adams, senior vice-president and general counsel at Apple released a statement the day the verdict was announced maintaining that “We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling and we consider this a huge win for Apple. This decision validates that Apple’s success is not illegal.” Adams continued, holding that “The Court has confirmed, after reviewing evidence from a 16-day trial, that Apple is not a monopolist in any relevant market and that its agreements with app developers are legal under the antitrust laws.”

In her verdict Judge Rogers also issued an injunction which cited that Apple will no longer be allowed to prohibit its developers from providing communications or links which steers users away from in-app purchasing in the App Store. Apple has been granted 90 days in order to allow for in-app payment options beyond those processed directly through the App Store.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny sent a letter to Apple exec Phil Schiller stating that Epic Games has paid Apple $6 million as ordered by the court. Sweeny promised to “adhere to Apple’s guidelines” and asked Apple to restore Epic’s developer Account. However, Apple has informed Epic Games that it will not allow Fortnite to return to iOS or macOS App Stores until “the district court’s judgment becomes final and non-appealable”.

Sweeny released a thread of tweets most notably stating “Apple lied. Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else’. Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users”.

This is an ongoing case; we will be providing updates on the matter as they happen. Should you require any further information to the above or assistance about gaming-related matters, do not hesitate to contact us on gaming@whpartners.eu.

The information provided above is accurate as of 24 September 2021.