Apple has secured yet another victory against Epic Games in their ongoing legal dispute. The North American Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a judge’s ruling from 2021 that found Apple did not violate federal laws by not allowing competing stores on the iOS platform.
This decision marks the second time in two years that a federal court has ruled in favor of Apple’s compliance with state and federal antitrust laws.
The judge’s initial ruling in 2021 resulted in Epic Games losing nine out of the ten charges filed against Apple. Despite this setback, Epic Games announced their intention to file an appeal. However, the appeals committee, comprised of three judges, has chosen to uphold the initial sentence.
In their statement, the committee explained that they applied existing precedents to the facts and did not intend to settle the active and important debate surrounding the role of online transaction platforms in the economy and democracy.
While Apple sees this decision as a reaffirmation of their overwhelming victory in this case, they did disclaim the only remaining claim under state law and are considering further review.
An Apple spokesperson stated that the App Store continues to drive innovation, foster competition, and expand opportunities for users and developers worldwide.
The judge’s ruling in 2021 stated that Apple could not prohibit developers from including external links or other calls-to-action in their apps that direct customers to purchase mechanisms, in addition to in-app purchases.
It also stated that developers could communicate with customers through touchpoints voluntarily obtained from customers through in-app account registration.
Following this ruling, Epic Games President Tim Sweeney asked Apple to reactivate the company’s developer account and promised to adhere to Apple’s standards when releasing products on Apple platforms.
However, Apple rejected this request and stated that Fortnite would not return to the App Store until the litigation between the two companies ended. To this day, Fortnite remains unavailable on iOS, and it is unclear if or when it will return to the platform.
The ruling by the appeals committee has once again highlighted the ongoing debate about the role of online transaction platforms in our society. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the decision has significant implications for the future of app stores and online marketplaces.
It remains to be seen whether Epic Games will continue to appeal the ruling or whether this legal dispute has come to a close. Regardless, this decision is sure to shape the future of online transactions and competition in the digital marketplace.