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In brief: Epic took Apple to court, arguing that Apple uses its App Store in an anti-competitive manner. However, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers doesn't seem phased by Epic's arguments.
After deliberately flouting Apple's in-app payment policies, Epic launched a lawsuit against Apple accusing it of anti-competitive practices. The two companies appeared at a hearing on Monday via Zoom. However, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Rogers did not seem particularly pleased with Epic's legal arguments, per a report from CNN.
Specifically, Judge Rogers disagreed with Epic's argument that Apple violated antitrust laws by requiring that apps use Apple's in-app payment system to be listed in the App Store.
“Walled gardens have existed for decades,” said the judge. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
Epic's ultimate goal is to use its own launcher or at least use its own payment system to skirt Apple (and Google's) 30% cut via in-app payments. However, Apple has argued that this could lead to security issues. Epic countered, saying that it wasn't a security threat because it is a well-established company and business partner to Apple. Judge Rogers again disagreed.
“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!”
“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” said Rogers. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
This ongoing battle between Apple and Epic has been entertaining. Both sides are flinging corporate mud at each other in simultaneous efforts to save face. Epic hosted a Fortnite tournament, which rewarded winners with expensive tech—other than Apple products. Apple denied Epic Games accounts from using Apple's single sign-in system.
Apple's tussle with Epic extends to other developers as well. Spotify, Epic, Deezer, Protonmail, and other developers have formed the "Coalition for App Fairness," which advocates "freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem." Even Microsoft is fighting with Apple to allow game-streaming services like xCloud and Stadia on the App Store.
Monday's hearing didn't settle anything regarding Fortnite returning to the App Store, though a decision is forthcoming. Judge Rogers recommended a jury trial to "understand what real people think."