Apple denies Fortnite a return to the App Store


A lawyer for Apple (AAPL) said the company “has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic’s developer program account at this time” in response to a request from the video game maker to do so, according to a letter sent to the lawyer from Epic and tweeted by Company CEO Tim Sweeney, Wednesday.

“In addition, Apple will not consider any request for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment is final and without appeal,” said the letter from Apple’s attorney, a copy of which was provided to CNN Business by Epic.

The ruling further escalates a months-long legal battle between the two companies over Apple’s rules for its App Store and suggests that the hugely popular game won’t return to iOS devices until an appeals process ends. Sweeney said in a tweet that the process could take up to five years.
A California judge ruled earlier this month that Apple can no longer ban app developers from directing users to payment options outside of the App Store. However, the judge did not declare the iPhone manufacturer’s monopoly and ruled that it was within its rights to remove Fortnite from its devices. Epic has appealed the decision.
Apple first launched Fortnite from the App Store last August for flouting its rules on in-app payments on the iPhone by giving users another way to pay. The takedown led Epic Games to initiate what appeared to be a largely premeditated legal action.

In a contentious lawsuit that lasted most of May, Epic argued that the App Store was a monopoly because it was the only way to access hundreds of millions of iPhone users, and that Apple has hurt competition by banning other app stores or payment methods on its devices. . Apple has sought to play down this argument by pointing out that the iPhone is one of the many devices on which Fortnite users can play the game and purchase its V-bucks in in-game currency, including Android smartphones (Epic leads a similar lawsuit against Google) and video game consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox, many of which also don’t allow alternative payment methods and charge similar commissions.

In a series of tweets On Wednesday, Sweeney slammed what he called “another extraordinary anti-competitive move from Apple” and suggested the company had gone back on its word.

“Apple lied,” he said, citing earlier statements in which Apple said it would welcome Epic’s return if it agreed to play by the same rules as everyone else on the App Store. . “Epic agreed, and now Apple has given up on yet another abuse of its billion-user monopoly power.”

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on Sweeney’s tweets, but pointed CNN Business to parts of the court ruling where the judge ruled in Apple’s favor.

“With more than 30 million registered iOS developers, it is not particularly surprising, nor necessarily bad, that Apple does not negotiate terms in general,” the judge wrote.

Sweeney vowed on Wednesday that Epic would continue to pressure Apple.

“We will fight” he said on Twitter. “The need for regulatory and legislative action is clearer than ever.”


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