On Wednesday, both Apple, and Epic Games, the creator of the popular game “Fortnite,” formally requested the United States appeals court to reexamine its judgment passed in April regarding an antitrust lawsuit. This ruling can potentially compel Apple to change the payment procedures in its App Store.
Apple and Epic Games, in individual legal documents submitted to the court, launched appeals against a decision handed down by a trio of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals located in San Francisco. Legal representatives for both enterprises argued that the three-judge panel should be called upon to revisit the case. Alternatively, they suggested the court should assemble “en banc”, forming an expanded panel of 11 judges to reassess the controversy at hand.
The decision made by the three-judge panel in April supported a verdict from a federal court in California issued in 2021. This verdict was part of Epic Games’ lawsuit wherein they alleged that Apple was engaging in illegal practices. More specifically, Epic accused Apple of unjustly forcing software developers to pay commissions as high as 30% on consumer purchases within their applications.
In their filing to the 9th Circuit court, Epic Games argued that their grievances against Apple pertained directly to the central objective of U.S. antitrust law – promoting fair competition. They further contended that the appeals court did not perform an in-depth and meticulous evaluation balancing the alleged benefits for consumers against the anti-competitive consequences arising from Apple’s practices.
Federal appeals courts do not frequently approve requests for en banc hearings. Looking back at the previous year, the 9th Circuit court received a substantial number of 646 petitions, all of them requesting the court for en banc rehearings. However, the court only approved 12 of these requests during that time frame. If we turn the clock back to 2021, the court greenlighted en banc reviews in only nine cases.
Regulatory bodies focusing on competition in other nations, such as South Korea, the Netherlands, and Japan, have already initiated actions that could compel Apple to make its in-app payment mechanisms more accessible.
For reference, the case is titled “Epic Games Inc versus Apple Inc,” it’s under the review of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the case number being 21-16506. (Reuters)