Epic Games Refused Permission To Sue Apple In London

Epic Games, the developer of Fornite, will not be able to sue Apple in London courts, over the expansion of its dispute with Apple and Google and their respective app store policies.

The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, which rules on competition matters, ruled that while Epic Games cannot not take Apple to court in the UK, it can however pursue legal action in the UK against Google.

Epic Games had filed a complaint with the Competition Appeal Tribunal in January against both Apple and Google, alleging they broke competition law. Its move in the UK was to force those firms to return Fortnite to their respective app stores.

App charges

Apple had removed Fortnite from its app store last August over the dispute, which revolves around app store charges that Epic argues are unfair.

Epic introduced a feature into Fortnite allowing users to bypass Apple’s in-app payment systems for the purchase of the game’s virtual currency.

Apple responded by removing the game from its app store, and later removed Epic’s developer account.

Apple has also counter-sued Epic.

Epic argues the cut taken by app stores for in-app purchases, typically 30 percent, is excessive.

The game developer also argued Apple and Google had abused their dominant positions in the smartphone industry, “substantially reducing competition” in app distribution and payment processes.

Epic Games also wants Apple and Google to allow users to download apps from outside their app stores.

Apple has robustly defended its commission charge of between 15-30 percent for apps that use its in-app payment system. It also imposes strict rules that apps must comply with to appear in its App Store, which is the only venue where iPhone and iPad can download apps for their devices.

But in November Apple announced that the new App Store commission will fall from 30 percent down to 15 percent for small developers and businesses earning up to $1 million per year.

Last week Epic also filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission, the antitrust body and executive arm of the European Union, in a major escalation of its fight against Apple and the 30 percent commission for purchases it charges big firms on its App Store.

UK ruling

Epic will now be able to pursue Google in the UK’s courts, over allegations about how Fortnite was pulled from the Google Play store.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal’s Justice Roth, was reported by the BBC as saying he was “far from persuaded” that the UK was the best place for the Epic-Apple dispute.

But Google was different due to complex legal reasons involving the corporate structure, Google’s Irish subsidiaries, and how much input the different branches of the two tech firms had in implementing the decisions.

Apple also has a presence in Ireland, but it was not involved in Epic’s case.

This means that Epic is able to pursue Google in the UK, but not Apple.

Epic Games was quoted by the BBC as saying it was “pleased” about the decision regarding Google, and that it “will reconsider pursuing its case against Apple in the UK after the resolution of the US case”.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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