Epic Battle: Apple Seeks Supreme Court Reversal

Image credit: Epic Games

Apple has turned to the Supreme Court to challenge a previous ruling in its dispute with Epic Games. The tech giant aims to maintain control over its platform, and the outcome could change the rules for all app developers.

Apple Against Alternate Payment on Platform

Apple’s plea, filed as a cert petition, takes issue with a prior decision that would compel the company to permit app developers to offer alternative payment options outside of the App Store. This ruling, currently in a state of uncertainty as both Epic and Apple escalate their legal skirmish, would come into effect if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case.

Describing the injunction as “breathtakingly broad,” Apple asserts that it’s not just about Epic Games but would affect all app makers. The district court, in a unilateral move, issued a universal injunction restraining Apple from enforcing one of its contractual guidelines against every app developer on the App Store’s U.S. storefront, encompassing millions of apps.

“The Ninth Circuit affirmed on the ground that extending injunctive relief to some nonparties—approximately 100 other app developers—was necessary to redress Epic’s alleged injury. Neither court ever found, or even considered, whether relief as to all affected nonparties was necessary or appropriate,” Apple stated in its new petition.

Epic Pushes Back Against Antitrust Practices

Epic, on the other hand, filed its own petition to the Supreme Court, aiming to revisit the core allegation that Apple’s App Store practices violate federal antitrust laws. While Epic secured some victories in lower courts concerning external payment options, the overall verdict tilted in Apple’s favor.

The clash between Apple and Epic Games has escalated to the highest legal echelon, with both sides vying for Supreme Court intervention to shape the future of app distribution and payments. Apple’s plea to overturn the injunction preventing alternative payments, if successful, could have a far-reaching impact, potentially altering the App Store’s established revenue model and the way developers interact with it.

The crux of the issue is the contentious “anti-steering” policy, which has long vexed developers. This rule not only bars app makers from providing links to web-based payments but also prohibits them from informing users about cheaper alternatives outside the App Store. Epic Games made this policy a central point in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple, with the lower court ruling in its favor in 2021.

Epic Games isn’t solely seeking Supreme Court intervention for this matter. They’re also pushing to keep their antitrust claims against Apple alive, further complicating the legal battle.


Bal M

Bal was BTW's copywriter specialising in tech and productivity tools. He has experience working in startups, mid-size tech companies, and non-profits.

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