Apple Blasts Epic's 'Self-Serving' App Store Lawsuits As Digital Fight Gets Nasty

Apple and Epic Games
All that hissing and clawing you hear is not the neighborhood cats going at it, but Apple and Epic Games tussling with one another in a court of law. Well, their respective legal teams, anyway. The fight over Apple's App Store payment policies and Epic Games trying to sidestep them continues, and as far as Apple is concerned, Epic Games is embarking on a "self-serving" path with one of its lawsuit.

All of this legal arm wrestling has to do with Epic Games suddenly deciding it did not want to continue paying Apple a royalty on in-app purchases, primarily as they related to Fortnite, a hugely popular game that generates a ton of revenue. So one day Epic Games updated its Fortnite app on iOS to allow for direct payments, rather than routing them through the App Store, where Apple would take a cut.

This did not sit kindly with Apple, which promptly kicked Fortnite from the App Store, as Epic Games undoubtedly knew would occur. Weeks later, a judge ruled that Fortnite could stay blocked from the App Store as further legal proceedings take place, but ordered Apple to allow Epic's Unreal Engine to remain. Apple also tried to boot the development tool, but the judge found the move "retaliatory" in nature.

"While consumers feeling the impact of this litigation, the fact remains: these are business disputes. A putative class action on behalf of all developers on these exact same issues was already in progress when Epic Games breached the agreements. Yet, Epic Games has never adequately explained its rush, other than its disdain for the situation. The current predicament is of its own making," the judge wrote.

The latest comments from Apple's legal team come in relation to a lawsuit filed in Australia. According to Epic's lawsuit, Apple's move to ban Fortnite is an exploitation of its market power to the detriment of both developers and Australian consumers.

Apple is peeved that Epic filed a lawsuit in Australia to begin with, saying the developer is ignoring a promise to litigate solely in the northern district of California. Beyond that, however, Apple made comments suggesting there is nothing altruistic about the lawsuit.

"You have a sophisticated commercial entity that sought and obtained access to Apple’s intellectual property and all of the benefits of access to Apple’s software and hardware, exploited that opportunity to great effect for many years, and the essence of the dispute … is that Epic wants to redefine the terms of access in quite fundamental and self-serving ways," Apple's lawyer Stephen Free said, according to The Guardian.

Interestingly, this whole ordeal did seemingly prompt both Apple and Google to slash their royalty rates in half, with both going from taking a 30 percent cut to a 15 percent cut. Apple's reduced rate went into effect at the beginning of the year, and Google's will be implement in July.

With regards to the lawsuit in Australia, Epic's legal team says it is a "pretty straightforward case," with the evidence making "clear this conduct is going to substantially impact these markets" in the way the lawsuit alleges.