Apple and ‘Fortnite’ Maker Epic Games face off in court
A trial began Monday between the creator of the popular video game “Fortnite” and Apple Inc.
this could help determine how apps generate revenue from mobile devices in the future.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is presiding over the scheduled three-week bench trial in Oakland, Calif., Which began with oral argument after technical issues caused a short delay.
Epic Games Inc. sued Apple and Alphabet Inc. of
Google in August after companies removed “Fortnite” from their mobile app stores. They say their moves were justified because Epic broke their rules by inserting its own system for processing payments made into the game, a move that could potentially bypass the 30% of revenue Apple and Google earn from the. in-app purchases.
Epic, a private company valued at nearly $ 29 billion last month, claimed that Apple charges exorbitant fees to mobile software developers and runs the App Store in a way that stifles small businesses and prohibits competition. loyal. A trial date has not been set in Epic’s lawsuit against Google.
Apple said Epic’s actions were a breach of contract and the games company had engaged in a smear campaign. Apple has also stated that there are many platforms on which “Fortnite” is available, claiming that the market is mature and does not hold anything close to a monopoly against developers.
Among those expected to speak on behalf of Epic on Monday is its co-founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, who has spent months planning his company’s attack on Apple with a team of around 200 Epic employees. , outside lawyers and public relations advisors. He appeared in the courtroom in a gray-blue suit and wearing a black mask.
Mr. Sweeney, 50, is a seasoned programmer who prefers an office uniform consisting of cargo pants and T-shirts. A native of Maryland with a net worth of over $ 9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he has previously testified in court and spoken in front of crowds at events such as the Mobile World Congress and the Game Developers Conference.
Epic’s cookie list also includes other company executives, former Apple employees, and employees of other companies, including Microsoft Corp. Apple’s cookie list includes the CEO of the company over the past decade, Tim Cook, and other executives such as Phil Schiller, who runs the App Store and Apple Events.
Antitrust cases can be hard to win for plaintiffs, legal experts say, and Epic’s lawsuit may depend on the court defining a market in the digital age. Epic claims Apple has a monopoly on its App Store, while Apple claims it is just one of many distribution channels in the larger market for video games and other software.
Analysts say an appeal is likely regardless of the outcome of the trial, a possibility the judge raised during hearings last year.
Apple faces close scrutiny from regulators elsewhere over its business practices. The European Union on Friday accused the company of violating antitrust laws for allegedly abusing its control over the distribution of music streaming apps. The case in Europe stems from a complaint filed in 2019 by Spotify Technology SA, which competes with Apple’s music streaming service. The UK is separately investigating whether Apple imposes anti-competitive terms on app developers, and US lawmakers have accused Apple of operating with “monopoly power.”
In response to the EU charges, Apple said Spotify was successful even after removing its app’s paid subscriptions from the App Store. Apple also said that Spotify’s request to be able to advertise alternative offerings through its App Store is a practice that no store allows.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Is Apple Unfairly Limiting Competition in the Mobile Application Market? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8