Apple responds to accusation of skirting antitrust ruling

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Apple has requested that a judge dismisses a new complaint by Epic Games, which accuses the Cupertino-based company of failing to adhere to an earlier antitrust ruling.

The dispute initially ignited when Epic Games implemented its own in-app payment system within the iPhone platform, effectively sidestepping the App Store’s standard 30 percent commission fee. Apple retaliated by expelling Epic from the App Store, citing a clear violation of its terms and conditions.

The confrontation escalated to legal proceedings, where the court determined Apple did not wield monopolistic power but required the company to permit app sales through third-party avenues. Both Epic and Apple were dissatisfied with parts of the ruling and sought appeals, which the US Supreme Court ultimately declined to entertain.

Following the Supreme Court’s refusal, Apple announced it would allow third-party app sales but imposed a 27 percent commission (reduced to 12% for smaller developers). This solution has not quelled the discontent of antitrust regulators in the US and Europe, both expressing concerns over Apple’s compliance with legal mandates.

The European regulator has launched a non-compliance investigation, and the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the US has initiated an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. Unsurprisingly, Apple has refuted all of the DoJ’s claims.

Epic Games argues that, despite the ruling, Apple’s terms still effectively prevent developers from offering cheaper alternatives outside of the App Store by imposing a near-equivalent commission. In January, Epic filed a report alleging non-compliance by Apple, urging that the company be found in contempt of the court’s orders.

Apple’s recent court filing vehemently denies any transgression of the court’s decision. Submitted to US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who oversaw the 2020 lawsuit between Apple and Epic, the document refutes the grounds for holding it in contempt.

Apple contends that it has not violated the court’s orders and claims that Epic’s accusations aim to “micromanage” Apple’s operations to unfairly boost Epic’s profits.

The continued legal friction between Apple and Epic signals a persistent and evolving debate over app marketplace monopolies, developer freedoms, and the flexibility of app sales and commissions. Last month, Spotify accused Apple of deliberately holding back approval for an updated version of its iOS app and failing to comply with the European Union’s new Digital Markets Act regulations.

The outcome of this latest complaint could have significant implications for developers and companies operating within Apple’s ecosystem and beyond.

(Photo by David Monje)

See also: Apple relaxes App Store rules to permit game emulators

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