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Apple Wins Another Legal Battle With Epic Games Over App Store Rules

Apple Wins Another Legal Battle With Epic Games Over App Store Rules

Apple and Epic Games have been engaged in a legal batter over Apple’s App Store rules since 2020, when Epic Games violated Apple’s guidelines by attempting to avoid using Apple’s in-app purchase system. The move kicked off a long-running legal battle, the most recent of which has not gone in Epic Game’s favor.

Epic in August 2020 implemented a direct payment feature in the iOS version of “Fortnite” in violation of Apple’s App Store policies. Apple subsequently removed the game, and Epic Games filed a lawsuit.

Epic Games had argued that it’s been denied access to iOS, which it claims is an “essential facility” due to the fact it’s been blocked access to the ‌App Store‌. Apple is specifically accused of violating Section 2 of the Sherman Act through “its unlawful denial to Epic and other app distributors of an essential facility—access to iOS.”

In September 2021, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple was not a monopoly. However, Apple would be forced to change its “anti-steering” rules that prohibit developers from directly communicating with customers about alternate payment options.

Epic Games‌ almost immediately appealed the ruling  claiming that the original court “reached the wrong answer” and “made multiple legal errors.” Unfortunately for ‌Epic Games‌, an appeals court today did not see things the same way, siding with Apple and upholding the original ruling.

Bloomberg reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Epic’s claims that the ‌App Store‌ rules violate federal antitrust law by not allowing for third-party app marketplaces. While this is a win for Apple, the court also upheld the original court’s decision on Apple’s anti-steering rules.

Apple was ordered to implement ‌App Store‌ changes that will allow developers to use buttons, links, and more to inform and direct customers to purchasing methods outside of the ‌App Store‌, Which will allow developers to implement alternative payment options.

“There is a lively and important debate about the role played in our economy and democracy by online transaction platforms with market power,” said the appeals court. “Our job as a federal court of appeals, however, is not to resolve that debate — nor could we even attempt to do so. Instead, in this decision, we faithfully applied existing precedent to the facts.”

Apple will likely soon need to make changes to the ‌App Store‌ to comply with the court’s ruling.

Apple said that while it supports the court’s decision, the Cupertino company disagrees with the ruling on the ‌App Store‌ changes, and that it is “considering further review.”