As we reported earlier, Epic Games launched antitrust litigation against Apple (and Google) in California. The case concerns Apple's removal of the hugely popular battle royale game Fortnite from the App Store after Epic introduced its own direct in-app payment functionality into the version of Fortnite available on iOS, in contravention of the terms of Apple's Developer Agreement. Epic filed an additional claim against Apple in Australia in November 2020 (round 2), and then just before Christmas, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple and Google in the UK before the Competition Appeal Tribunal ("CAT"; round 3). A summary of the UK claim can be found here and is grounded basically on the same reasons as the California claim: Apple is violating competition rules by i) reserving to itself the sole channel for the distribution of apps to and/or the payment processing mechanism for purchases of in-app content for and by consumers who use iPhones and iPads, ii) using its dominant position to charge unfair prices for the distribution of apps via the App Store and/or use of the Apple in-app payment processor, and iii) its response to Epic's introduction of price competition for purchases of in-app content in Fortnite.
However, the key defendants, Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc and Google LLC are all domiciled outside the UK, which is why the competent court in the UK ruled at the end of February that Epic Games is cleared to sue multiple Google entities as well as Apple (UK) Limited in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (sitting in England and Wales), and cannot sue Apple Inc. (the Cupertino-based corporate parent of the entire Apple group) in the UK, as a related case is already pending in the Northern District of California. Epic Games commented in a statement that it will reconsider pursuing a case against Apple in the UK after the US case is finished.
Despite (or because of?) the admittedly small setback in the UK, Epic Games took further action against Apple by filing an antitrust complaint against it before the EU Commission as per an announcement. The strategy of Epic Games' global fight against Apple is not obvious, but irrespective of this, the complaint before the EU Commission comes almost two years after Spotify submitted similar complaints about Apple to the EU Commission. As is public knowledge, the EU Commission meanwhile has opened a formal investigation into Apple. The pressure, if anything, is growing.
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