The Supreme Court rejects the dueling antitrust appeals filed by Apple and Epic in their ongoing lawsuit, effectively granting Apple a pyrrhic victory.
On Tuesday, January 16, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the dueling appeals filed by Apple and Fortnite publisher Epic in their ongoing antitrust dispute. Court justices refused to hear Apple’s appeal in a case challenging its highly lucrative App Store, while also passing on Epic’s lower court appeal regarding Apple’s App Store policies. The justices did not give a reason for their decision to reject the company’s appeals.
“The court battle to open (Apple’s App Store) to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney on Twitter. “A sad outcome for all developers.”
Apple shares saw a more than 1% drop following the announcement on Tuesday.
The battle began in 2020 when Epic filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple of imposing illegal monopolies, forcing consumers to acquire apps through its App Store and buy digital content for those apps using Apple’s own system, for which the company charges up to 30% in commission.
In 2021, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected Epic’s antitrust claims against Apple. However, the judge also ruled that Apple’s barring developers from encouraging users to make digital purchases bypassing Apple’s in-app system violated California state law, a decision largely affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A resulting injunction requires Apple to allow developers to provide links to direct customers to alternate ways to pay for digital content.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the two companies’ dueling appeals comes amid rumors that the Justice Department will sue Apple over its business practices. The department is already embroiled in litigation over antitrust disputes with Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company.
Apple is also fighting the European Union’s attempts to regulate the App Store under the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which goes into effect on March 7, 2024.