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Apple Appeals Epic Games Ruling to the Supreme Court Amid App Store Controversy

Apple seeks the Supreme Court's intervention in the Epic Games anti-trust case, aiming to preserve its in-app sales cut. This comes amid rulings compelling Apple to allow third-party payment options in apps.

Apple Takes Epic Games Case to Supreme Court

In an attempt to safeguard a cut of in-app sales, Apple is asking the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in the anti-trust case against Epic Games. Previously, two lower courts ruled that Apple must scrap its rules that prevent apps from including their own payment options—a policy that has been a key source of Apple's profit.

The controversy began in 2020 when Epic Games introduced a Fortnite update allowing gamers to buy digital coins through a direct payment feature, thereby bypassing Apple's system. This move violated Apple's policy, which mandates all iOS games to use in-app purchases, giving Apple a 30% share of the profits. In response, Apple removed Fortnite, one of its highest-grossing games, from its App Store. Epic then sued Apple, alleging "unfair and anti-competitive actions," and sought policy changes instead of damages.

However, the lawsuit produced mixed results for both parties. In 2021, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic intentionally violated Apple's rules, and Apple wasn't required to reinstate Fortnite in its App Store. Although Rogers didn't deem Apple a monopoly, she mandated that Apple must allow apps to offer third-party payment systems to users. This change took effect last year and was upheld by the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in April.

Apple's lawyers argue in their filing that the ruling surpasses Epic Games and "exceeds the district court's authority under Article III," which restricts federal court jurisdiction to actual cases and controversies. In essence, they claim the court overstepped and are appealing to the Supreme Court to acknowledge this and let the App Store resume its regular operations—with developers giving cuts of sales to Apple.

Regardless of the outcome, Apple will need to adjust its practices in some regions due to new regulations. For instance, the European Union has mandated that the company must permit third-party app stores by 2024.