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In the ongoing legal tussle between Epic Games and Apple, the former is now seeking the intervention of the United States Supreme Court to uphold a critical ruling against the tech giant. Epic Games hopes that the highest court in the nation will reactivate an injunction that targets Apple’s App Store payment systems.
Although Apple has largely secured favorable legal decisions, a single exception involving anti-steering rules in the digital storefront has opened the door for Epic Games to mount its latest offensive. As the battle continues, the industry waits eagerly for the Supreme Court’s decision, which could have far-reaching implications for Apple and other app developers.
The epic legal showdown between Epic Games and Apple has been a captivating spectacle in the tech world. While Apple has made significant strides in securing judgments in its favor, the anti-steering rules in its digital marketplace have been a notable exception.
Apple has swiftly appealed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, petitioning the Supreme Court to review the ruling. This strategic move grants Apple an opportunity to delay major changes to its App Store policies, with a default 90-day grace period for action. Depending on the Supreme Court’s response, this delay could be extended even further.
Unsurprisingly, Epic Games is far from pleased with the recent developments. The company, renowned for its popular battle royale game Fortnite, has now filed a request with the Supreme Court, urging them to lift the lower court’s decision. The stakes are high, and the industry watches with bated breath as the Supreme Court’s response remains pending.
At the heart of the dispute lies Apple’s App Store commission structure, a subject that has triggered heated debates for some time now. Companies like Epic Games have been vocal critics of Apple’s anti-steering rules, which impose restrictions on third-party developers and their ability to direct customers to alternative in-app purchase and subscription options outside the App Store ecosystem.
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The roots of this legal battle stretch back to 2020 when Epic Games daringly updated Fortnite to allow players to bypass Apple’s payment system and directly pay the game developer. Apple’s strict policies, however, forbid such deviations from their first-party payment system for in-app transactions. As a consequence, Apple promptly removed Fortnite from the App Store, issuing a clear ultimatum to Epic Games: comply with the rules or remain banned. Epic Games chose the path of defiance, taking Apple to court on the very same day the game was updated.