Epic Games secured a small victory in its ongoing dispute with Apple over in-app purchases in Fortnite on Tuesday after a claim of theft was dismissed. Apple accused Epic of theft and sought extra monetary damages beyond breaching their contract. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did not agree with the claim.
“This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that’s all in my view,” U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers told lawyers at a hearing yesterday, per Bloomberg. “You can’t just say it’s independently wrongful,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers told Apple’s lawyer, referring to Epic Games’ conduct in the case. “You actually have to have facts.”
“This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that’s all in my view,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers told lawyers. Apple disagreed with Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ decision but stated that Epic still breached its contract.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines that apply equally to every developer who sells digital goods and services,” Apple said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “Their reckless behavior made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making it right for them in court next May.”
A three-month saga between Epic, Apple, and Google
The two companies have engaged in a legal battle since August over Fortnite and how it processes in-app transactions. Epic Games sought to circumvent Apple’s 30% fee through a “direct payment” option. By offering an alternative payment option, Epic Games saved up to 20% for players through this method.
Both Apple and Google have taken steps to prevent Epic Games from getting around app store fees. As of this writing, Fortnite is no longer available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Users with a copy of Fortnite downloaded still have access to the game. However, anyone looking to download it can’t find it through the app stores.
So, in response to Fortnite‘s delisting from the Apple App Store, Epic sued Apple on August 13. Epic claimed that Fortnite’s removal was in “retaliation” for offering an alternative to in-app purchasing. Still, this dispute was denied on August 25, with Judge Gonzalez Rogers stating that Apple was within its right to remove Fortnite from the platform. In the same decision, the judge prevented Apple from removing all Epic Games titles from the store.
Google has asked that its case remain separate from the dispute between Apple and Epic Games.