UK court dismisses Epic Games lawsuit against Apple

The case was thrown out as Apple's UK arm does not decide which apps appear on the App store.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal has dismissed Epic Games' lawsuit against Apple that had accused the iPhone maker of acting anti-competitively in the app distribution and payments sector.

In the ruling, the court explained that the case was dismissed as the main target, the UK arm of Apple, provides research and development and other technical services to other companies within the Apple group, but it "does not provide support for technological or systems related issues".

Due to this, the court found the UK arm was not responsible for deciding which apps may or may not be supplied through Apple's app store and, therefore, a case could not be made that Apple's UK arm acted anti-competitively.

The court did acknowledge, however, that the dispute had merits in the United States.

"In my view, that is a significant factor in favour of the US as the appropriate forum. It is clear from even a cursory reading of the judgment of 9 October 2020, and hardly surprising, that many of the same issues of substance which arise under UK competition law arise under US antitrust law," Justice Peter Roth said.

The dismissal brings the number of lawsuits Epic Games has underway against Apple down to three. The remaining legal processes, filed in Australia, the US, and the EU all specifically target Apple's app distribution and payment processes.

Epic Games has provided similar arguments across all of its lawsuits, saying in each one that it is not seeking damages from Apple but, instead, it wants for regulators to "address Apple's alleged anti-competitive conduct".

"Apple has become what it once railed against: The behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple's size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history," Epic said in its US claim, which was the first of the lawsuits to be filed.

The two companies have been engaged in a spat since August last year, after Apple and Google blocked Fortnite from their respective app stores in response to Epic Games implementing an in-app payment system within the game to circumvent payment of the 30% commission fee to those stores.

Over the weekend, Apple filed a subpoena against Valve requesting information regarding the company's yearly sales, revenue, and pricing for its Steam store apps as part of its legal fight with Epic Games. While Valve is not party to the Epic Games-Apple standoff, Apple has asked for this information as it claims the information is necessary to calculate market size and definition for its case.

Valve has already produced documents regarding its revenue share, competition with Epic, Steam distribution contracts, and other documents, but it has refused to provide pricing information due to it being confidential and burdensome to gather in the manner Apple requested.


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