We knew the Epic v. Apple lawsuit wasn’t entirely over in spite of the ruling, as both parties planned to appeal, but this latest move – from no less than 35 states – is a bit of a twist.
Epic’s suit against Apple began in 2020 when Epic used Fortnite as a pawn in its pre-planned campaign to force platforms like Apple and Google to allow it to bypass their profitable protectionist policies that blocked third-party direct payments. The result was Fortnite banned from the platforms and an anti-monopoly lawsuit, the conclusion to which did not declare Apple a monopolist but did find that it had engaged in anti-competitive conduct and incipient antitrust violations under California competition law. Consequently, Apple was forbidden from blocking third-party purchase mechanisms as of last December. Neither Epic nor Apple was thrilled with the result.
But Epic might be smiling now, as attorneys general from 35 states and the U.S. Justice Department, as well as an assortments of academics, consumer advocates, and Microsoft, filed arguments supporting Epic’s appeal, arguing that the judge misapplied the Sherman Act. “The district court committed several legal errors that could imperil effective antitrust enforcement, especially in the digital economy,” the Justice Department claims. Apple, which will file its reply this spring, says it’s confident Epic will fail.
As we noted earlier this week, game developers strongly supported Epic over Apple in the suit as well, according to the annual GDC polling.