Sep 8, 2020 - Technology

Apple countersues Fortnite developer Epic

Ina Fried
An animated graphic of the Apple logo with bites being taken out

Apple on Tuesday filed its response to a lawsuit from Epic Games and made counterclaims of its own, arguing that the Fortnite developer breached its contract with Apple and is violating California laws against unfair competition.

Why it matters: It's a high-stakes battle for both companies, with Apple aiming to preserve the status quo and Epic arguing developers should have options beyond using Apple for in-app payments.

The latest: Apple argues in the new court papers that its dispute with Epic boils down to "nothing more than a basic disagreement over money."

  • "Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store," Apple said.
  • Apple is seeking to be compensated for the extra money that Epic has gotten from bypassing Apple's in-app purchase mechanism as well as punitive damages to account for what it says was a willful breach of contract.

Context: Last month, Epic added its own in-app purchase mechanism to Fortnite, knowingly setting up a confrontation with Apple. Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and Epic immediately filed suit.

  • A similar chain of events took place with Google on the Android side, though in that case, Epic can continue to distribute Fortnite on its own, while no similar option exists for iOS.
  • Apple also threatened to remove Epic's access to developer tools, including for its Unreal Engine, which is widely used by other game developers.
  • A court denied Epic's request for a temporary restraining order to keep Fortnite in the App Store, but temporarily stopped Apple from removing Epic's developer access.

The other side: Epic said in a court filing on Friday that it has already seen daily active use of Fortnite on iOS drop by 60%.

What's next: Apple and Epic are due back in court on Sept. 28 for a hearing on whether Epic should be granted a preliminary injunction that would force Apple to restore Fortnite to the App Store while the broader court battle remains pending. (The temporary restraining order the judge previously ruled on was a shorter-term measure.)

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