Today Apple filed counterclaims and responses against Epic Games in a legal battle surrounding in-app purchases and the game Fortnite. Apple’s claim suggests that “although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store.”
Per CNBC, Apple and Epic filed claims in the District Court for the Northern District of California. This battle began in the public eye on August 13, 2020, when Epic Games published an update to the online multiplayer game Fortnite. In that update, Fortnite included a feature which allowed gamers to pay for in-app content while bypassing Apple’s standard 30% cut of profits.
Apple responded to the update by removing Fortnite from their App Store. Epic Games responded by suing Apple that same day. Epic Games developer account was suspended by Apple on August 28th, effectively blocking not only Fortnite development on Apple computers, but feature updates for systems like the game development engine Epic Games.
Epic Games asked the court for a preliminary injunction that’d force Apple to reinstate their developer account, suggesting that a continued removal of said account would result in irreparable harm to the Epic Games brand and company. Apple revealed a counter-suit today, suggesting that Epic Games appeared to have been readying multi-tiered attack on Apple to attempt to bypass Apple’s 30% payment requirement included in Apple’s developer contract.
Per the Apple counter-suit, Epic has “taken advantage of Apple’s support and services more than any other app developer for the past two years.” The suit suggested that each time Epic released a new “season” of their Fortnite game, Apple “put it in the spotlight, providing free promotion and favorable tweets, ultimately sending over 500 million marketing communications to end users, and even paying for a billboard in Times Square to promote a particular Fortnite in-app concert.”
Apple listed a number of ways in which Epic Games benefited from their relationship with Apple and Apple’s assistance in promoting and hosting Fortnite on their platforms. The claim suggested that “sometime before June 2020, things changed. Epic decided that it would like to reap the benefits of the App Store without paying anything for them.”
“Unbeknownst to Apple, Epic had been busy enlisting a legion of lawyers, publicists, and technicians to orchestrate a sneak assault on the App Store,” said Apple’s suit submitted earlier today. “Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on August 13, 2020, the morning on which Epic would activate its hidden commission-theft functionality, Mr. Sweeney again* emailed Apple executives, declaring that ‘Epic will no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions.’”
The claim also noted an email from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney to Apple executives on June 30, 2020, requesting that Epic get an exemption from all existing contractual obligations.
Apple’s claims were filed today in a 67-page report. This case is listed under code 4:20-cv-05640-YGR, with the document entitled “Apple’s answer and counterclaims to Epic’s complaint for injunctive relief.”