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Supreme Court Rejects Epic Games’ Challenge Against Apple’s App Store Policies

 |  January 16, 2024

In the ongoing legal battle between Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game “Fortnite,” and tech giant Apple, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear an antitrust challenge brought by Epic Games against Apple’s App Store practices. The decision marks a setback for Epic Games in its attempts to challenge the way Apple manages its lucrative App Store.

Epic Games had filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in 2020, accusing the iPhone maker of monopolistic behavior by compelling consumers to obtain apps exclusively through the App Store and purchase digital content within apps using Apple’s payment system. Apple, in turn, charges a commission of up to 30% for in-app purchases.

The Supreme Court justices declined to hear Epic Games’ appeal of a lower court’s decision that determined Apple’s App Store policies did not violate federal antitrust laws. Simultaneously, the justices also rejected Apple’s appeal of the same decision, which had prohibited certain App Store rules.

Read more: Epic Games v. Apple: A Case Summary

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers had previously ruled in 2021 that Apple did not violate federal antitrust laws, dismissing Epic’s claims. However, she did find that Apple breached California’s unfair competition law by prohibiting developers from guiding users to make digital purchases outside of Apple’s in-app system. Epic argued that such alternative payment methods could result in cost savings due to lower commissions.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld much of Judge Rogers’ decision in 2023, stating that Epic had “failed to prove the existence of substantially less restrictive alternatives” to Apple’s payment system, reported Reuters.

Although Judge Rogers had issued an injunction requiring Apple to allow app developers to include links and buttons directing users to alternative payment methods, the enforcement of this injunction is currently on hold while Apple’s appeal is pending. The Supreme Court had denied Epic’s request in 2023 to implement the injunction immediately.

The legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple underscores the ongoing scrutiny and debate surrounding the practices of major tech platforms and their impact on competition within the digital marketplace.

Source: Reuters