Apple has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order that requires changes to its App Store rules. The order stems from an antitrust case brought by Epic Games, the owner of popular game “Fortnite.” The legal battle between Apple and Epic Games started in 2020 when Epic Games claimed that Apple’s App Store rules, which include charging up to 30% commissions on in-app payments, violated U.S. antitrust laws.
Although Epic Games lost its claims against Apple at trial in 2021, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Apple’s practice of prohibiting software developers from informing customers about alternative payment methods violated a California unfair competition law. As a result, the judge ordered Apple to change its rules for all developers in the U.S. App Store.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the orders, but they are currently on hold pending a decision from the Supreme Court. Apple argues that the lower court orders go beyond the powers of a federal judge and violate the U.S. Constitution. Apple claims that the trial judge relied on a case brought by a single developer, Epic Games, to justify a nationwide ban without proving that the ban was necessary to address the harm caused to Epic.
Epic Games has also appealed the lower court rulings in the Apple case. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on whether to hear the case later this year or early next year.
This legal battle between Apple and Epic Games has significant implications for the app development industry and the future of the App Store. Depending on the outcome, it could lead to changes in the way Apple operates its App Store and charges developers for in-app purchases.
The Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching consequences for the control and regulation of app marketplaces and the potential for antitrust enforcement in the tech industry. Both Apple and Epic Games are seeking a favorable outcome that aligns with their respective interests. Ultimately, the court’s decision will shape the future of app distribution and the relationship between app developers and platform owners like Apple.