The ongoing lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple, started all the way back in August 2020 is now over, with Apple winning on 9 of 10 claims. This was decided by the US Ninth Court of Appeal upholding the decisions of Judge Rogers in September 2021 (TL;DR summary here).
Details of the ruling from TechCrunch:
In today’s decision, the appeals court panel affirmed the district court’s denial of antitrust liability and its corresponding rejection of Epic’s illegality defense to Apple’s breach of contract counter-claim, the ruling said. However, it also noted that the district court had erred in defining the relevant antitrust market and in holding that Apple’s DPLA (Developer Program Licensing Agreement) fell outside of the scope of the antitrust law known as the Sherman Act.
But it said those errors were ultimately “harmless” and that Epic, regardless, had “failed to establish, as a factual matter, its proposed market definition and the existence of any substantially less restrictive alternative means for Apple to accomplish the procompetitive justifications supporting iOS’s walled- garden ecosystem.”
In other words, while these types of contracts can be within the scope of a Sherman Act claim, that wasn’t relevant to the court’s decision in this case.
The panel also upheld the district court’s ruling in favor of Epic Games within the scope of California’s Unfair Competition Law.
“The district court did not clearly err in finding that Epic was injured, err as a matter of law when applying California’s flexible liability standards, or abuse its discretion when fashioning equitable relief,” the ruling stated.
That would mean the anti-steering changes the district court previously decided on would once again be required.
Apple hasn’t yet issued an appeal for this part of the decision. It will likely weigh its options before making that determination.
In another bright spot for Apple, the appeals court ruled that the district court had erred when it ruled that Apple wasn’t entitled to attorney fees related to the DPLA breach of contract claims.
It wasn’t an across the board win for Apple however, as they were found in violation of California’s Unfair Competition law. This ruling is perhaps the biggest win for developers as it will enable developers to link to external payment systems. Summarized from CNBC 2021 ruling coverage:
The decision concludes the first part of the battle between the two companies over Apple’s App Store policies and whether they stifle competition. Apple won on nine of 10 counts but was found to engage in anticompetitive conduct under California law, and will be forced to change its App Store policies and loosen its grip over in-app purchases. The injunction will come into effect in December.
“The Court concludes that Apple’s anti-steering provisions hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice,” Rogers wrote. “When coupled with Apple’s incipient antitrust violations, these anti-steering provisions are anticompetitive and a nationwide remedy to eliminate those provisions is warranted.”
You can learn more about the conclusion of Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit in the video below.