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Epic asks the Supreme Court to weigh in on its beef with Apple

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We haven’t heard the last of Epic’s crusade against Apple over the iPhone maker’s App Store fees.

Epic Games filed a cert petition with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting things in motion for the highest court in the land to reexamine if Apple’s software business violates federal antitrust laws.

We’ll know in the coming months if the Supreme Court will select the case, which would reopen a protracted legal battle between the two companies that’s wended its way through the courts for going on five years now. Apple will likely file a petition soon too, taking issue with a previous ruling that was partially sympathetic to Epic’s complaints.

Epic Games, which makes Fortnite and runs its own software marketplace, the Epic Games Store, initially sued Apple back in 2020. That lawsuit came after Apple booted Fortnite from iOS — a controversy that Epic itself kicked off by purposefully breaking App Store rules by giving players a way to pay directly for Fortnite’s in-game currency.

That workaround circumvented Apple’s controversial fees, running afoul of the tech giant’s guidelines in the process and kicking off Epic’s vigorous campaign to rally developers against Apple’s longstanding software practices.

Earlier this year, Apple largely won an appeals court fight with Epic stemming from the same complaints over the company’s App Store policies. In an opinion issued in April, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of a previous decision issued by a federal judge in U.S District Court for the Northern District of California. That ruling denied most of Epic’s argument that Apple violates federal antitrust laws by boxing out alternative software markets on iOS.

While the courts mostly landed on Apple’s side, the federal judge did rule that Apple violated California’s Unfair Competition Law by restricting developers from telling consumers about alternative payment options — a sliver of a win for Epic. The appeals court affirmed that decision earlier this year.

With the ongoing legal fight now headed in the direction of the Supreme Court, Epic requested that developers be allowed to point iPhone users toward payment options beyond Apple’s walled garden. That request was rejected by Justice Elena Kagan in August, meaning that Apple’s existing rules will remain in place for now unless the Supreme Court decides not to weigh in after all.

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