The acrimonious litigation process between video game and software developer, Epic Games and Apple Inc. is not appearing to end soon even with the ruling largely favouring Apple.
Epic Games which lost its major lawsuit against Apple is not appearing to go down without a fight, and this time, with an army of major support lined up for solidarity.
Part of the judgment affirmed Epic Games breached its contract with Apple when it implemented the alternative payment system in the Fortnite app. In the ruling, the judge ordered Epic to pay Apple 30 percent of all revenue collected through the system since it was implemented, a sum of more than $3.5 million.
Epic had tried to make a case at the court that Apple is operating a monopoly over apps on iOS apps, while demanding for changes that would effectively force the iPhone maker to take a smaller percentage of all the transactions that go through that store. Epic with the instigated litigation sought to change how Apple operates its very lucrative App Store.
The judge had ruled in favor of Apple in 9 out of 10 counts Epic brought forward, with both companies appealing the counts they lost.
Epic Games in an opening appeal brief it filed last week argued that allowing the Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruling stand “would upend established principles of antitrust law and undermine sound antitrust policy.”
After Epic Games filed a notice of appeal against the judgment and on January 27th this year, it has one of the biggest support base ever as a considerably large number of organizations filed amicus briefs in support of Epic’s battle, which included a coalition of 35 state attorneys general, Microsoft, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
It appears the fight would get more dramatic with more than half the states in the US, Microsoft, and the many more groups filing amicus briefs as they align with Epic Games assertion that Apple has a monopoly.
“Apple’s conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app developers and millions of citizens,” the states said in their brief. “Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app-distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifle competition, and amass super competitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry. Apple must account for its conduct under a complete rule of reason analysis.”
“A broad ruling for Apple could leave little room for a limiting principle to prevent Apple from leveraging its control of iOS to foreclose competition in countless adjacent markets,” Microsoft said. “Google, the only other mobile operating system provider, could be empowered to do the same. The stakes are high for Microsoft and other businesses that depend on antitrust laws to protect competition on the merits.”
Microsoft, a key ally and supporter of Epic Games during the proceedings of the bench trial was unwavering in its support for Epic to the extent that Epic even called Microsoft to the stand to testify.
The EFF said in the conclusion to its brief that:
“A holistic review of the district court’s factual findings will show that Apple does have market power in app distribution, and that its proffered justifications for its restrictive App Store policies do not outweigh the anticompetitive effects of those policies.
“Accordingly, this Court should find Apple’s policies to be illegal under the Sherman Act. This result will leave Apple free to continue innovating for the benefit of its users, while allowing innovation to flourish outside of Apple’s walls as well.”
With the support base of Epic Games growing, The Verge has listed the organizations who filed amicus briefs in Document Cloud.
- The coalition of 35 states led by Utah
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
- The Consumer Federation of America and developers including Basecamp (the makers of the Hey email app) and Match Group
- Public Citizen
- The Committee to Support the Antitrust Laws
- The American Antitrust Institute
- A group of 14 law, economics, and business professors
- A second group of 38 law, economics, and business professors
The United States, though not directly in support of either party, also filed an amicus brief.