Epic Games has requested the US Supreme Court to review a previous ruling that cleared Apple of antitrust violations. The game developer claims that Apple violated California’s Unfair Competition law by prohibiting developers from directing users to third-party payment systems. Although the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that Apple’s practices had an anticompetitive effect on consumers, it did not meet the bar for an antitrust case. If Epic Games wins its appeal, Apple could potentially lose a significant source of revenue from its App Store, where it takes a cut of all purchases made.
The dispute between Epic Games and Apple centers around the App Store’s payment policies, which many developers argue are unfair. Epic Games has been the most vocal critic, but other companies like Spotify and Tile have also joined the Coalition for App Fairness to pressure Apple for policy changes. While authorities in countries like South Korea and the Netherlands have ruled in favor of allowing third-party payments, Apple still charges a transaction fee for such payments. Additionally, there are reports that Apple is preparing to support third-party app stores in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.
As the case awaits a decision from the Supreme Court, the popular game Fortnite remains unavailable on the App Store. It has been absent since August 2020 when Apple banned the game after Epic Games attempted to bypass the App Store’s cut by adding alternative payment methods. Notably, Epic Games is also involved in a similar legal battle with Google regarding alleged unfair fees and requirements for in-app purchases on the Play Store. The trial for this case is expected to begin in the next few weeks, with both Epic Games and the Match Group demanding billions of dollars in damages from Google.