The case between Apple and Epic takes its first steps in court: the trial between the two players opens today in court in Oakland, California. Since August 2020, the two companies have been in opposition on the question of the general conditions of use applied by Apple on its App Store. The leader of Epic, Tim Sweeney, indeed sees in the regulations of the App Store established by Apple an unfair competition, the editor being according to him in position to enact the rules which apply to its competitors.
Epic contests several provisions of the regulations applying to the App Store, the commission levied by Apple on all purchases made on the store, including in particular in-app purchases. The impossibility for a publisher to offer an iOS application through any means other than the App Store, and therefore to evade this commission, is according to Epic proof of the monopolistic nature of Apple in this market.
Last year, Epic got the ball rolling by introducing an update to the iOS version of its Fortnite game, allowing users to purchase in-game currency directly through Epic’s services, outside of the iOS app. A way for Epic to escape the 30% commission imposed by Apple on in-app purchases, and to challenge Apple’s position on the issue.
Apple’s response was not long in coming: the publisher immediately removed Epic’s applications from its App Store. The controversy had been widely relayed in the press and on social networks, but the two actors did not hide their desire to settle their dispute in court. The trial which opens today is expected to last three weeks and the two executives of the companies are expected to testify.
Other fronts, same arguments
This trial will probably only be the first part of the battle between Apple and Epic. On the one hand because at the end of the debates, the two parties will always have the possibility of increasing the number of remedies and appeals in order to possibly reconsider the decision. On the other hand, because the question is actively examined in other jurisdictions: Spotify thus lodged a complaint similar to that of Epic to the European Commission in 2019, and Epic increased with a complaint at the beginning of the year. 2021.
Epic is indeed not alone in its fight against Apple. The publisher is one of the founding members of the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of organizations that challenge the locks imposed by Apple for the distribution of applications on iOS. The case is therefore followed very closely by the sector, and could ultimately redefine the legal framework for the distribution of mobile applications.