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Epic cries out for monopoly as Apple details secret ‘Project Liberty’ effort to bring about ‘Fortnite’ ban – TechCrunch


The Epic v. Apple alleging monopoly practices of the latter will begin next month, and today the main arguments of each company have been published, after being somewhat lightened at the discretion of the court. Once the basic facts are agreed, the two companies will fight over what they want to say, and their CEOs will likely take the (virtual) position to do so.

As we’ve seen in previous months, Epic’s argument is that Apple’s grip on the app market and the standard 30% fee is anti-competitive behavior that needs to be regulated. by antitrust law. He rebelled against what he describes as an illegal practice by slipping his own in-game currency store into the popular game Fortnite, bypassing Apple payment methods. (CEO Tim Sweeney later, and unwittingly, compared this to resistance to unjust laws in the civil rights movement.)

Apple denies the monopoly charge, pointing out that it faces huge competition across the market, but not within its own App Store. And as for the amount of the fee – well, maybe that’s a question that could bear some adjustment (the company lowered its hold to 15% for the first million developers following criticism throughout. 2020), but this hardly amounts to illegality.

For its part, Apple maintains that all of the antitrust allegation and associated dusting is little more than a press stunt, and that it has something for receipts.

Epic had, after all, a whole PR strategy ready to go when it filed the lawsuit, and the documents describe “Project Liberty,” a long-term program within the company aimed at, Apple’s opinion, to consolidate the decline in revenue Fortnite. Epic appears to have paid some $ 300,000 to a public relations firm to advise it on the “two-phase communications plan,” involving a multi-company complaints campaign against Apple and Google through the “Coalition for App Fairness”.

Project Liberty is an entire section of Apple’s dossier, detailing how the company and Sweeney planned to “drag Google into a legal battle for anti-trust” (and presumably Apple) according to internal emails, according to internal emails. causing it to be banned by the company’s application. stores to bypass their payment systems. Epic only mentions Project Liberty in one paragraph, explaining that it kept the program a secret because “Epic could not have disclosed it without getting Apple to reject version 13.40 of Fortnite“, To know. the one with the offending payment system integrated. It’s not really a defense.

Whether Apple’s fees are too high and Epic does it to extend Fortnite’s profitable days, the case itself will be determined on the basis of antitrust law and doctrine, and on that front, things don’t seem particularly dire for Apple.

While the legal arguments and factual summaries span hundreds of pages on both sides, it is pretty much summed up in the very first sentence of Epic’s filing: “This case is about Apple’s conduct to monopolize two markets in the world. within its iOS ecosystem. “

To be precise, the question is whether Apple can be seen as a monopoly on an ecosystem that it has created and administered from the very beginning, and which is beset from all sides by competitors in digital distribution and marketing. gaming space. This is a new enforcement of antitrust law and one that would carry a heavy burden of proof for Epic – and that a (admittedly amateur) review of the arguments does not suggest that there is much chance. of success.

But the opinion of a random reporter is not much in the accounting of things; there will have to be a trial, and another should take place next month. There’s a long way to go, as Epic’s presentation of its arguments will have to be as meticulous as their dismantling by Apple. To that end, we can expect live testimony from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, former Apple Marketing Director, and the familiar face of Phil Schiller, among others.

The timing and nature of this testimony or questioning will not be known until later, but there will likely be some interesting interactions that are worth hearing. The trial is scheduled to begin on May 3 and last for approximately 3 weeks.

In particular, there are a handful of other lawsuits in this regard, such as Apple’s counter-suit against Epic alleging breach of contract. Many of them will depend entirely on the outcome of the main case – for example, if Apple’s terms were found to be illegal, there was no contract to be broken, or if not, Epic pretty much admitted. breaking the rules so that the case is almost already over. .

You can read the full papers on each part’s “proposed findings of fact” on the invaluable RECAP; the file number is 4: 20-cv-05640.



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