On August 21, Apple filled its legal response to Epic’s lawsuit on ban of the popular gaming app, Fortnite from iOS App Store. The iPhone maker categorically held the developer responsible for the ban of Fortnite. In the filing the company said that Epic’s latest direct payment update was in violation of the its policy and breach the terms of App Store agreement, the developer “willingly and knowingly installed the hot fix into its app to bypass Apple’s payment system and App Review Process, it knew full well what would happen.”
The legal battle between the two companies, started over a demand from Apple by Epic to reduce its 30%revenue share from in-app purchases of the Fortnite iOS app. When the Cupertino tech giant did not agree, Epic bypassed it and released an update which allowed users to pay directly to the developer via new Epic direct payment method and cut Apple completely from any monetary share of in-app purchases.
Immediately after the update, when Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, Epic Games filed a lawsuit and when the iPhone maker notified the developer of termination of its developer account by August 28, again Epic had a lawsuit ready. Thus, the Cupertino tech giant calls these series of events, Epic’s orchestrated effort to…. by Apple.
Apple’s Legal Response to Epic Games
A response over 34 pages detailed how the developer has used Apple’s App Store platform to promote its gaming apps and inherently benefited from it. An extract of the iPhone maker’s filing reads;
“For years, Epic took advantage of everything Apple’s App Store has to offer. It availed itself of the tools, technology, software, marketing opportunities, and worldwide customer reach that Apple provided so that it could bring its creativity to iOS and games like Infinity Blade and Fortnite to the App Store. It enjoyed the tremendous resources that Apple pours into the App Store to constantly innovate to create new opportunities for developers and experiences for customers, as well as to review and approve every app, keeping the App Store safe and secure for customers and developers alike. Over time, in part because of the opportunities Apple made available, Epic grew to a multi-billion dollar enterprise with large investors like the Chinese tech giant Tencent pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the company. Now, having decided that it would rather enjoy the benefits of the App Store without paying for them, Epic has breached its contracts with Apple, using its own customers and Apple’s users as leverage.”
In the wake of its own voluntary actions, Epic now seeks emergency relief. But the “emergency” is entirely of Epic’s own making. Epic’s agreements with Apple expressly spell out that if an app developer violates the rules of the App Store or the license for development tools— both of which apply and are enforced equally to all developers large and small—Apple will stop working with that developer. Developers who work to deceive Apple, as Epic has done here, are terminated. So when Epic willfully and knowingly breached its agreements by secretly installing a “hotfix” into its app to bypass Apple’s payment system and App Review Process, it knew full well what would happen and, in so doing, has knowingly and purposefully created the harm to game players and developers it now asks the Court to step in and remedy. Relief in these circumstances is not available under the law. And the injunction Epic seeks would threaten for everyone the benefits that Epic, developers and App Store customers have long enjoyed.