Today, a noteworthy and highly publicized lawsuit between tech supergiant Apple and video game developer Epic Games reached a somewhat controversial conclusion.
To those unfamiliar with the situation: In August of 2020, Epic Games sued Apple for being removed from Apple’s digital marketplace, due to the fact that Epic created direct payment options that circumvented Apple’s 30% commission fees.Epic’s lawsuit also brought up broader claims that Apple was essentially a monopoly, and is a dominating force over less resourceful developers that are forced to comply with Apple’s policies.
After months of intense litigation and speculation from industry experts, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic’s lawyers failed to convince the court that Apple was indeed “an illegal monopolist”. However, Judge Rogers did conclude in her decision that “...Apple is engaging in anti-competitive conduct under California's competition laws,”.
Although Epic Games failed to prove that Apple is a monopoly, the company didn’t walk away completely unscathled. As part of the court’s ruling, Apple must now allow developers to provide alternative payment options outside of the Apple marketplace, to create a more competitive environment for everyone involved.. The court also ruled that Epic Games pay 3% of the $12 million in direct payments that Epic received while ignoring Apple’s policies.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney commented on his frustration with the ruling on Twitter, tweeting: “Today’s ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”.
Legally speaking, the result of this case would appear to be a win for Apple. However, the mandatory marketplace changes that Apple must adhere to have some experts speculating that the future of app development could be completely altered moving forward. Now that developers can provide alternative payment options, they can avoid the massive commission fees that were once required to claim a stake in the multibillion dollar app market.
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