Apple and Epic lawsuit opens with tour of Fortnite ‘metaverse’
Epic argues that the case is about the app economy at large and that Apple has a monopoly on its App Store for iPhone users. In particular, Epic is fighting a 30% commission Apple takes on purchases made in iPhone apps like Fortnite.
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In a nearly empty courtroom in Oakland, Katherine Forrest of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore opened Epic’s case by viewing a series of emails between Apple’s top executives. According to Ms. Forrest, the emails prove that the tech giant has deliberately created a “walled garden” that locks consumers and developers inside. This forces them to use Apple’s payment system, she said.
After Apple attracted users and developers to its walled garden, “the garden gate was closed, the lock turned,” Ms. Forrest said. She compared Apple’s fees on in-app purchases to an auto dealership that charges a commission on gasoline sales.
Apple’s lawyers described in their opening statement a thriving market for application distribution that includes game consoles, desktop games and the mobile web. Paul’s Karen Dunn, Weiss argued that the 30% commission was up to industry standards and that Epic’s requests, if granted, would make iPhones less secure, while illegally forcing Apple to make doing business with a competitor.
Ms Dunn added that Epic’s case was a selfish way to avoid paying the fees it owed Apple.
Day one of the high-tech competition court battle included in-the-weed terms like hotfix, sideloading, and cross-platform middleware services. But the day started with a familiar experience of the pandemic: the difficulty of zooming. The start of the test was delayed by approximately 40 minutes due to technical difficulties with the hotlines set up for remote listening.
In another sign of the changes made to testing by the pandemic, everyone allowed into the nearly empty room wore a mask or face shield. The judge’s bench was surrounded by plexiglass dividers.
“It’s been an adventure – not even the year, but this case,” said Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, who will decide the case. She will also provide the ruling on Epic’s lawsuit against Google over the fees it charges in the Google Play Store, which is expected to go to trial later this year.