May 16, 2021

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Apple faces Fortnite creator Epic Games in a major antitrust trial

Image Credit: Epic Games

Attorneys for Epic Games and Apple Inc, the creator of Fortnite, will present opening arguments Monday in an antitrust trial whose final outcome could affect Apple’s fast-growing app store business.

The lawsuit that Epic filed last year in the United States.

The District Court for the Northern District of California is focusing on two Apple practices that have become the cornerstone of its business: Apple’s requirements to distribute nearly all third-party software for the billion iPhones in the world through its app store, and requirements for developers using Apple’s in-app purchase system, which It charges commissions of up to 30%.

Epic broke Apple’s rules last year when it introduced its in-app payment system to Fornite to navigate Apple’s commissions. In response, Apple kicked Epic from its app store.

Epic has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the iPhone maker is abusing its authority in app developers through app store review rules and payment requirements that harm competition in the software market. Epic has also launched an aggressive PR campaign to bring attention to its claims just as Apple’s practices have come under scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators in the United States and elsewhere.

Apple responded to Epic’s allegations by saying its app store rules made consumers feel safe and secure opening their wallets to unknown developers, helping to create a huge market that all developers benefited from. Apple argues that Epic intentionally broke its contracts with Apple because the game maker wanted a free ride on the iPhone maker’s platform.

Epic does not seek financial damages but does ask the court to issue orders that would end many Apple practices.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will preside over the three-week trial in a courtroom in Oakland, California. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Apple App Store President Phil Schiller is expected to attend the full trial, and the proceedings will also include personal testimony from Apple CEO Tim Cook and other senior executives of both companies.