UPDATE: Epic Games and Apple Battle Continues whilst Spotify Insists that Apple One is Anticompetitive amidst Ongoing EU Investigations

NEWS

23 Sep 2020

This is the fifth update in relation to the ongoing legal dispute concerning Epic and Apple.

Should you wish to refer to our previous articles, they are accessible here, here, here and here respectively.

In a new court filing, Apple is now claiming that Epic initiated this lawsuit for the sole purpose of increasing interest in Fortnite.

In support of the above statement, Apple has argued that "For reasons having nothing to do with Epic's claims against Apple, Fortnite's popularity is on the wane. By July 2020, interest in Fortnite had decreased by nearly 70% as compared to October 2019. This lawsuit (and the front-page headlines it has generated) appears to be part of a marketing campaign designed to reinvigorate interest in Fortnite”. The decline of 70% user interest was calculated from Google Trends data. This data, presented by Apple, shows the number of individual searches for the term “Fortnite” since its launch in 2017.

This filing follows Apple’s decision to refrain from allowing Epic to re-apply to its Apple Developer Program for at least one year. In this regard, Epic filed a preliminary injunction to overturn this ban. It is said that assuming no changes are made, it remains unlikely that Fortnite will return to iOS before August 2021.

As previously reported, Epic held that harsh decisions being taken by Apple will lead to “irreparable damage”. In this regard Apple have answered stating that “If Epic were truly concerned that it would suffer reputational injury from this dispute, it would not be engaging in these elaborate efforts to publicize it. From all appearances (including the #freefortnite campaign), Epic thinks its conduct here will engender goodwill, boost its reputation, and drive users to Fortnite, not the opposite. That is not harm.”

The latest filing from Epic rejects Apple’s claims stating that “the number of daily active users on Fortnite actually increased by more than 39%”. The September 28 hearing, set by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, regarding Epic’s request for a preliminary injunction still stands.

On 16 June 2020, the European Union (“EU”) had announced that it has opened formal investigations to assess whether Apple’s App Store rules for app developers violate EU competition law. The investigation surrounding the App Store will focus mainly on Apple’s prerequisite which demands developers to use the in-app purchase system. This news was well received by popular music streaming provider Spotify, which has consistently been one of the larger companies to accuse Apple of withholding too much power. Spotify has an ongoing antitrust complaint, filed during March 2019 with the EU, regarding Apple’s mandatory in-app purchase system and restrictions prohibit developers from promoting alternate purchasing possibilities outside the App Store. Following Apple’s announcement of its own Apple One service bundle Spotify called on regulators to investigate Apple One stating that "once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favouring its own services". 

In lieu of the above, Spotify calls upon “competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect,” Apple’s company director Lori Malm holds that a product like Apple One is “everything for the entire family, for one incredible price".

As Apple continues to be at the forefront of tech related news, we will be providing updates on the progression of these fast-evolving cases 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 23rd September 2020.