Fortnite maker Epic loses US legal battle with Apple over App Store

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The US Supreme Court has rejected a bid by the developer of video game Fortnite to challenge Apple over its App Store rules.

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Epic Games after it sued Apple in 2020 over the restrictions and fees imposed by its iPhone App Store, which it alleged were anticompetitive. 

At the time, Epic had added options to bypass Apple’s fees, which can be as high as 30pc, by adding its own payment system, resulting in it being kicked out of its digital store.

Epic was largely defeated in the ensuing lawsuit, with a California judge ruling Apple did not have an illegal monopoly over app downloads. 

However, the court did order Apple to make changes to how its store operates, such as forcing it to allow links that will take users outside its App Store to make digital payments. 

Apple had also appealed to the Supreme Court to dispute this decision. Its case was also refused on Tuesday. Apple shares dropped as much as 2pc in New York.

Tim Sweeney, chief executive of Epic, said: “The court battle to open iOS [Apple’s operating system] to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States.”

While Epic lost its legal fight against Apple, in December it won a similar case brought against Google over its Android software and App Store.

Last month, a jury ruled in Epic’s favour, finding Google operated a monopoly over Android apps and engaged in illegal anti competitive behaviour, such as offering lucrative side deals to some rivals that cut its fees. 

Mr Sweeney previously told CNN that Google executives “wrote things down” about their plans, which “very clearly exposed all of their wrongdoing”. Google has said it will appeal the court’s decision. 

Despite US courts finding that Apple’s hold over its App Store is not a monopoly, the tech giant faces pressure in other parts of the world to crack open its digital store.

In Europe, Apple is preparing to offer alternatives to its app store to comply with new rules from Brussels. It is currently appealing against its designation by the EU as a digital “gatekeeper”. 

Read the latest updates below.

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