Meta, Microsoft, X, and Match join Epic Games' battle against Apple

Written by Jonathan Stemple

(Reuters) – Elon Musk's Meta Platforms, Microsoft,

The technology companies, which develop some of the App Store's most popular apps, said Apple was in “clear violation” of the September 2021 injunction by making it difficult to direct consumers to cheaper ways to pay for digital content.

Apple declined to comment specifically on the accusation, which was contained in a filing submitted to the federal court in Oakland, California.

It noted its January 16 statement that it had fully complied with the injunction, which it said would protect consumers and “the integrity of Apple's ecosystem” while ensuring developers don't get a free ride.

Epic sued Apple in 2020, saying it violated antitrust law by requiring consumers to obtain apps through the App Store and charging developers commissions of up to 30% on purchases.

The injunction requires Apple to allow developers to provide links and buttons to direct consumers to alternative payment options.

Last week, Epic called in Apple, saying new rules and a new 27% fee on developers make links effectively useless.

In a filing on Wednesday, the tech companies said Apple's conduct “for all practical purposes” entrenches anti-steering rules that the court found unlawful, supporting Apple's “excessive” commissions and harming consumers and developers.

“Apple’s restrictions on where and how developers can communicate with their users about their options to purchase in-app content create significant barriers to competition and artificially inflate prices,” the filing said.

In January, the US Supreme Court decided not to hear Apple's appeal against the injunction. It also decided not to hear Epic's appeal of the lower court's findings that Apple's policies did not violate federal antitrust law.

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Apple has until April 3 to officially respond to Epic's filing. The company is headquartered in Cupertino, California, while Epic is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina.

The case is Epic Games Inc v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-05640.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stemple in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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