News: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeals From Apple and Epic in Antitrust Case

January 22nd, 2024
Estimated read time: 3 minutes, 21 seconds

On Tuesday, January 16, the U.S. Supreme Court denied requests to hear appeals from both Apple and Epic Games regarding the antitrust case Epic filed against Apple in 2020, Reuters reported.

In 2021, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected most of Epic’s claims against Apple but ruled in Epic’s favor regarding Apple’s policies against developers sending users outside Apple’s system to make digital purchases. Then in 2023, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with much of Judge Rogers’ 2021 decision. 

How Apple Is Responding

The Associated Press reported that this lifts a hold on an order to give devs more freedom to use other payment options. Apple also filed court documents late on January 16 that outline its plans to comply with the order while still preserving most of their fees. 

AP continued that Apple’s Tuesday court filing shows they intend to: 

  • Allow developers to use links pointing to external websites, but Apple will still charge 12%-27% commission fees on payments via links to external websites.
  • Warn consumers using a “scare screen” if they click a link pointing them to an alternate payment system, stating that Apple is not responsible for those purchases regarding privacy or security. 
  • Institute a pre-approval process that AP describes as “potentially cumbersome” before allowing external-pointing links or buttons to appear in iPhone or iPad apps, citing Apple’s “effort to minimize fraud, scams, and confusion.”

How Epic Games Is Responding

AP noted that the document outlining the above plans “provoked claims that Apple is acting in bad faith and set the stage for more legal sparring,” apparently quoting Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney’s X (formerly known as Twitter) post stating “Apple filed a bad-faith ‘compliance’ plan for the District Court’s injunction.”

Sweeney then threaded a list of “glaring problems we’ve found so far,” concluding with “Epic will contest Apple’s bad-faith compliance plan in District Court” and attaching an image of the aforementioned “scare screen” Apple has included in its Developer Support update regarding external purchase links.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sweeney had posted mixed sentiments, noting that the Supreme Court choosing not to hear appeals in this case was “A sad outcome for all developers” but pointing out that “developers can begin exercising their court-established right to tell US customers about better prices on the web.”

Further Epic Games v. Apple Case Developments

On Wednesday, January 17, Reuters reported that Apple also asked the court on Tuesday to have Epic Games pay them over $73 million in legal fees and other costs. Reuters states that Apple’s request is based on “a lower court ruling that said Epic Games violated a developer agreement it signed in 2010,” in which “Epic agreed to cover losses, legal fees, and other costs for any breach.” 

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