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In a nutshell: As ugly as we knew it would get, the spat between Apple and Epic escalated this week. Cupertino filed a countersuit claiming the Unreal Engine developer breached a contract by implementing an alternative payment system in Fortnite. It also claims Epic is trying to portray itself as a "corporate Robin Hood," while, in reality, its greed is what is really at work.
In Apple's continuing legal battle with Epic Games, Cupertino is taking the offensive by filing a counterclaim against the developer for breach of contract. On Tuesday, Apple asked a California court for restitution for damages caused by Epic implementing an alternative payment system in its app the circumvented its ability to collect commissions on in-app sales.
According to Apple's filing, app developers who wish to distribute through the App Store must agree to the terms. One of these conditions is that 30 percent of app sales and sales within the app go to Apple. The two-trillion-dollar tech giant says Epic blatantly breached the terms on collecting payments, thus hurting Apple's business for its own benefit.
"Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality, it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store," the filing reads.
According to Apple's legal team, that "termendous value" stands at around $600 million earned just from the App Store before Fortnite was removed.
It is unclear how much Apple is asking for in damages. The filing vaguely states that it seeks restitution for all money collected through the external payment method. Obviously, this is a number Epic is going to have to cough up. However, the monetary damage caused by Epic's alternative was minimized when Apple banned Fortnite only a few hours after the system was implemented.
Ironically, it is asking US courts for an injunction to prevent such systems while at the same time is defending itself overseas from regulators and companies who say its App Store Tax is unfair since the marketplace is isolated from any competition. Such an injunction would prohibit any app, not just Fortnite, from implementing external payment methods. It would essentially give Apple a legally bulletproof case against future transgressions of this nature.
Epic has not commented on the countersuit but has long maintained that Apple's walled garden is an unfair playing field that suppresses free-market competition. It points to the Fortnite ban as just one example of that supression. Apple is also banning the developer from using the Sign In with Apple system starting as early as Friday.
Image credit: Ascannio