Epic vs. Apple Takes a Twist As 35 US States and Department of Justice Weigh in to Back 'Fortnite' Maker

Apple is stifling competition with its monopoly on app distribution through the App Store, attorneys general for 35 states told a California appeals court on Thursday.

app store blue banner epic 1
The joint statement was submitted into the appeals process that is ongoing following the judge's decision in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit, with the attorneys general siding with the "Fortnite" video game maker on the issue, reports Reuters.

"Apple's conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app-developers and millions of citizens," the states said.

"Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifle competition, and amass supracompetitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry."

According to the Financial Times [paywalled], the US Department of Justice also challenged last year's ruling, saying in its own submission that the court had "committed several legal errors that could imperil effective antitrust enforcement, especially in the digital economy."

The DoJ said the court had interpreted the Sherman Act, an 1890 law prohibiting anti-competitive behavior, "narrowly and wrongly, in ways that would leave many anti-competitive agreements and practices outside their protections."

The judge's decision in the Oakland, California case mostly ruled against Epic last year, although both Apple and ‌Epic Games‌ have decided to appeal the original ruling as neither company was satisfied with the outcome. ‌‌Epic Games‌‌ wanted the court to force Apple to support third-party App Stores, which did not happen.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the 15% to 30% commission that Apple charges some app makers through its in-app payment system did not violate antitrust law.

Along with the states, professors and activist groups also weighed in through court filings that described legal arguments in support of Epic, according to Reuters.

The states said in their filing that the lower court erred when it decided that a key antitrust law did not apply to non-negotiable contracts Apple makes developers sign, a claim Epic also made when it first filed its appeal earlier this month.

"Paradoxically, firms with enough market power to unilaterally impose contracts would be protected from antitrust scrutiny — precisely the firms whose activities give the most cause for antitrust concern," they said in the joint statement.

Apple, which is expected to reply in March, said on Thursday it was confident Epic's challenge would fail, and that it remained "committed to ensuring the ‌App Store‌ is a safe and trusted marketplace for consumers and a great opportunity for developers."

Top Rated Comments

senttoschool Avatar
17 weeks ago
Just the other day, I was using a friend's Oppo phone.

I tried to help my friend recover some deleted data. Naturally, I went to the Oppo/Android app store to look for "data recovery" apps. My god. What a freaking mess. Every app on there was a scam. None of them did anything except play endless ads and then scan existing data. All the reviews, sometimes 40,000+ reviews were fake.

I get the argument for 3rd party app stores. But the average consumer is going to be duped so easily by low quality app stores and apps.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yabeweb Avatar
17 weeks ago

I hope Apple withdraws from states that do this until their technologically inept dinosaur legislators are forced to backpedal due to public backlash. If sideloading were allowed, immediately every garbage company/institution will withdraw from the app store and force you to sideload their app as the only way to get it. It'll be like when Netflix, a single beautiful cable TV replacement, was cut up into 100 individual annoying services because a bunch of companies got greedy.
According to people Apple should only sell inside it's company.

Should stop selling to China because they copy everything, should get out of India market because of work condition ... then there was EU for their warranty policies then there was Russia because they steal data... you understand that if they withdrew from any market they have some issue with it will be the end of Apple.

If Apple did what you suggest it would only lose money.

It's a corporation, not a 2-year-old picking up its ball and leaving going home.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
17 weeks ago
Whatever your opinion on this matter may be, it's clear Apple will be forced to alter its App Store policy in a meaningful way. There are just too many government bodies pushing this for Apple to maintain the status quo. It's only a matter of when not if. Apple must know this too and has decided on a delaying strategy to squeeze out profits from the current structure for as long as possible.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macar00n Avatar
17 weeks ago
I hope Apple withdraws from states that do this until their technologically inept dinosaur legislators are forced to backpedal due to public backlash. If sideloading were allowed, immediately every garbage company/institution will withdraw from the app store and force you to sideload their app as the only way to get it. It'll be like when Netflix, a single beautiful cable TV replacement, was cut up into 100 individual annoying services because a bunch of companies got greedy.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlayUltimate Avatar
17 weeks ago
Not a lawyer, but didn't the contract exist prior to Apple having "monopolistic" power. Would a contract that was formed prior to having that type of "control" be now made invalid due to having that "control"? Especially if the terms had not changed to substantially to take advantage of that control. If I recall when the App Store was created (2008), Apple had a 19.2% smart phone market share. Since Apple's growth took place organically without changing the the contract terms, does the changing marketpower require a change in a static contract?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DelayedGratificationGene Avatar
17 weeks ago
These politicians are meddling in a product that is secure, private, reliable and cherished by both users and developers. Politicians, please stop wasting taxpayer time and money and focus on more important matters.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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