Epic vs. Apple Takes a Twist As Dozens of US States Weigh in to Back ‘Fortnite’ Maker

Apple is stifling competition with its monopoly on app distribution through the App Store, attorneys general for 34 states and the District of Columbia told an appeals court on Thursday.

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The joint statement was submitted into the appeals process that is ongoing following the judge’s decision in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit, with the attorneys general siding with the “Fortnite” video game maker on the issue, reports Reuters.

“Apple’s conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app-developers and millions of citizens,” the states said.

“Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifle competition, and amass supracompetitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry.”

The judge’s decision in the Oakland, California case mostly ruled against Epic last year, although both Apple and ‌Epic Games‌ have decided to appeal the original ruling as neither company was satisfied with the outcome. ‌‌Epic Games‌‌ wanted the court to force Apple to support third-party App Stores, which did not happen.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the 15% to 30% commission that Apple charges some app makers through its in-app payment system did not violate antitrust law.

Along with the states, professors and activist groups also weighed in through court filings that described legal arguments in support of Epic, according to Reuters.

The states said in their filing that the lower court erred when it decided that a key antitrust law did not apply to non-negotiable contracts Apple makes developers sign, a claim Epic also made when it first filed its appeal earlier this month.

“Paradoxically, firms with enough market power to unilaterally impose contracts would be protected from antitrust scrutiny — precisely the firms whose activities give the most cause for antitrust concern,” they said in the joint statement.

Apple, who is expected to reply in March, said on Thursday it was confident Epic’s challenge would fail.

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