Epic Games ‘cannot continue UK action against Apple'
Fortnite maker Epic Games has suffered a setback in its competition fight with Apple after a tribunal ruled a case cannot continue in the UK.
The game developer had brought a case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to ask if it can adjudicate on the ongoing dispute between it, Apple and Google over a breach of UK competition rules and abusing their dominant position in the market.
The ruling said the US would be a better forum for the Apple case, however, it said Epic can move forward with parts of a similar action against Google in the UK.
The dispute between the three companies relates to Apple and Google removing Fortnite from their respective app stores last year after Epic introduced a new payment option to Fortnite which allowed players to buy in-game items directly from Epic rather than using Apple and Google’s own payment systems.
This breached Apple and Google app store rules, the two companies said.
Epic has argued that these rules are unfair and anti-competitive as Google and Apple take a commission of up to 30% on transactions made through their systems.
Epic had asked the tribunal to declare the removal of Fortnite from both app stores unlawful and for an order that would see Fortnite restored to both stores and would allow Epic to offer its direct payment option to users.
The gaming firm has also launched legal action in the US over the issue, and filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the EU.
A number of other tech firms, including music streaming platform Spotify, have been vocal on the issue of fair competition and announced their support for Epic’s actions.
Late last year, Apple announced a change to its commission scheme, confirming it would halve the charge to 15% for any developer which earns less than one million dollars per year in sales generated through the store.
Responding to the ruling, a spokesperson for Epic Games said: “We are pleased that the Court has granted Epic permission to pursue our case against Google in the UK. Epic will reconsider pursuing its case against Apple in the UK after the resolution of the US case.
“We note the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s assessment that Apple and Google’s anticompetitive app store policies are ‘serious issues to be tried’ under UK Competition law, and that it is ‘well arguable’ that their conduct has ‘an immediate and substantial effect in the UK’.
“We are unwavering in our commitment to stopping Apple and Google’s anti-competitive practices and will continue to fight for fairer app distribution globally.”
A spokesperson for Google said: “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores.
“For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users.
“While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies.
“However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”