Apple scores ‘resounding’ victory in Epic Games appeal ruling

25 Apr 2023

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Apple said nine out of 10 claims were decided in its favour, but the result could make the company change its App Store payment practices.

A US appeals court has upheld a 2021 ruling between Epic Games and Apple, which gave some ground to Epic but resulted in a victory for the iPhone maker.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has largely rejected claims by Epic Games that Apple’s App Store policies violate antitrust rules. Epic Games claimed Apple’s practices were anticompetitive as they restrict other marketplaces on iOS devices.

In a statement shared with TechCrunch, Apple said the verdict reaffirmed the company’s “resounding victory”, as nine out of ten claims were decided in the company’s favour.

“For the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple abides by antitrust laws at the state and federal levels,” Apple said.

However, the one verdict that went in Epic Games’ favour relates to in-app purchases. The court ruled that Apple could no longer conduct “anti-steering policies”, or preventing links to other forms of payment when conducting in-app purchases.

Apple said it disagreed with the court on this ruling and hinted that it may contest this verdict.

Epic Games first sued Apple in 2020, after its cornerstone game – Fortnite – was removed from the app stores of both Apple and Google for violating in-app purchase rules. The game company also brought a similar antitrust complaint to the EU in 2021.

Epic Games introduced an in-game payment system that would allow users to pay directly for in-app purchases, circumventing the official payment systems put in place by Apple and Google in their app stores.

The Fortnite maker did this to get past the 30pc cut these app stores took at the time from every made transaction.

Speaking on the appeals result on Twitter, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said Apple “prevailed”, but noted that the portion of the 2021 ruling that sided with Epic Games was retained.

“Fortunately, the court’s positive decision rejecting Apple’s anti-steering provisions frees iOS developers to send consumers to the web to do business with them directly there,” Sweeney said. “We’re working on next steps.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic