Epic Wins Appeal to Continue Antitrust Case Against Apple in Australia
Australia's Federal Court has permitted Epic Games to sue Apple, reversing a previous ruling that said the two companies had to battle it out in the United States first before any legal action could take place Down Under.
Epic and Apple are involved in a highly public lawsuit in the United States, but Epic has also sued Apple in other countries, including Australia last November, in an attempt to boost its chances of getting a favorable ruling.
Epic's case in Australia follows much of the same argument in the U.S., claiming that Apple is a monopoly and that the App Store and in-app purchasing system are unfair.
Apple argued that the case was already being tried in California courts, and won a three-month stay on the Australian action that would become permanent unless Epic filed a lawsuit in California alleging violations of Australian Consumer Law.
Epic appealed that decision in April, and on Friday morning three Federal Court judges duly granted it, finding that the presiding judge who permitted the stay of action had failed to consider that the lawsuit involves public interest issues, which take priority over exclusive jurisdictional stipulations. Epic said it was pleased with the outcome.
"This is a positive step forward for Australian consumers and developers, who are entitled to fair access and competitive pricing across mobile app stores," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our fight for increased competition in app distribution and payment processing in Australia and around the world."
Apple said it would appeal the decision, on grounds that its contract with Epic requires that the two companies litigate in California.
"The initial decision in April from Australia's Federal Court correctly ruled that Epic should be held to the agreement it made to resolve disputes in California," said Apple in a statement. "We respectfully disagree with the ruling made today and plan to appeal."
Apple in March told an Australian court that Epic's legal challenge against the App Store is "self-serving," and that all the software company aims to do is "redefine the terms of access" that it's always been subject to on Apple's platforms.
The three-week Epic Games v. Apple trial wrapped up in the States in late May, but it could be several weeks before we learn of the verdict, and it's quite likely that any decision will be appealed, so this is a lawsuit that could carry on for months to come both in the U.S. and abroad.