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Home / Technology / Epic v. Apple discovery describes ‘Project Liberty’ scheme to skirt the App Store with Fortnite

Epic v. Apple discovery describes ‘Project Liberty’ scheme to skirt the App Store with Fortnite



Back in August 2020, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after an update that bypassed the App Store’s in-app purchasing system. Since then, Apple and Epic Games have fought in court – and now the findings of fact and conclusions about law that Apple has filed in court give us more details about what to expect from this lawsuit.

Apple’s conclusions were made public on Thursday with the arguments they expect to prove during the trial. Once again, Apple claims in its legal fillings that the App Store has created new opportunities that did not exist before. The company says the App Store has become extremely important to the economy as the app business moves millions of dollars worldwide.

One of the arguments against the allegations of anti-competitive practices states that “the vast majority of apps are free to download”

;, which means that the company does not earn a commission from them. Apple notes that the App Store competes with other digital platforms such as Google Play, Microsoft Store and PlayStation Store, suggesting that developers can always choose to offer their apps to other devices as well.

The findings suggest that some of these platforms even prohibit players from having something called “cross-wallet play”, which results in in-game purchases not being synced with other devices. Interestingly, the dumps also say that “online streaming services for games promise even more competitive pressure,” but Apple itself still limits how streaming games work in iOS.

However, a key argument that Apple has reiterated is that contrary to what Epic says, the App Store does not lead the gaming market, so it can therefore not be considered a monopoly. “Apple has no monopoly or market power in the relevant product market for gaming app transactions. And there is no claim that it had such power when the relevant restrictions were imposed around the launch of the App Store, “said the company.

Project Liberty

According to Apple, Epic Games hired PR companies in 2019 to work on a media strategy called “Project Liberty” that aims to portray Apple “as the bad guy.” In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers was concerned that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update, so this does not come as a surprise.

In its defense, the Cupertino-based company states that the App Store, iOS and all software are intellectual property, and it is not obligated to license such property to third parties.

Epic’s monopoly maintenance claim is based on antitrust laws precluding Apple from imposing conditions on licensed use of its intellectual property rights, and imposes an obligation on Apple to handle Epic on the terms that Epic prefers – to the detriment of other developers. and consumers. But Apple has no obligation to license its intellectual property rights, and except for a limited exception that does not apply here, companies are free to choose the parties they want to negotiate with, as well as prices, terms and conditions for that trade.

Apple also claims that Epic Games earned more than $ 700 million in revenue from iOS consumers with Fortnite when the game was available on the App Store, and that the company also pays commissions to other platforms on which Fortnite is distributed.

Finally, Apple believes that the 30% commission it charges for developers – which is now only 15% for those earning less than $ 1 million a year – is a good deal since this money is used to maintain the App Store. This includes reviewing all apps to ensure the security and privacy of iOS devices. For Apple, developers who disagree with the App Store guidelines are free to offer web apps, which do not need to be approved by the company.

The trial is set to begin next month

Judge Rogers recently said that the trial against Epic Games’ case against Apple is expected to take place on May 3, but things can change due to the pandemic. She also wants the trial to be personal instead of video conferencing because of the revelation.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple’s SVP for software Craig Federighi and other company executives have been asked to testify during the trial. Last month, Apple told 9to5Mac that “senior executives look forward to sharing with the court the very positive impact the App Store has had on innovation.”

Apple’s legal records are available on Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER).

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