Epic Games Takes Apple On In Court: Who Will Win And Who Should Win?

Epic Games accuses Apple of monopolistic practices. Separately, the EU filed antitrust charges.

Bench Trial Underway

In a US court bench trial, Epic Accuses Apple of Monopolistic Practices.

“Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc. deliberately violated Apple Inc.’s AAPL app-marketplace rules to show the power that Apple wields and how the tech giant takes an unfair share of money from software developers, the videogame company’s chief executive testified in a trial Monday. 

“Apple was making more profit from selling developer apps in the App Store than developers,” said Tim Sweeney, whose company’s global hit videogame “Fortnite” was removed from Apple’s app platform last August.

The statements from Mr. Sweeney, a 50-year-old programmer who founded Epic in 1991, in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom came on the first day of a planned three-week bench trial, one that could help reshape the multibillion-dollar market for distributing apps on mobile devices.

Mr. Sweeney, who donned a blue suit instead of his usual attire of cargo pants and a T-shirt, had been plotting the moment for months. His closely held company in August inserted its own, unauthorized payment system into the versions of “Fortnite” on the app stores that Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google control, as a way to circumvent the 30% fee the companies collect from in-app purchases.

EU Goes After Apple 

Epic isn’t Apple’s only problem when it comes to defending its App Store business model. The EU Charged Apple with Antitrust Violations last Friday.

The iPhone maker was charged Friday by the European Union with antitrust violations for allegedly abusing its control over the distribution of music-streaming apps. Apple still has a chance to argue its case before the EU’s regulatory commission before it renders its decision.

Both the Epic Case and EU probe are targeting elements key to the App Store model, such as the company’s tight control of which apps can be installed on its devices, and its requirement that transactions on those apps run through its own system. Lawmakers and regulators on this side of the pond also have their eye on the issue.

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