Apple says Epic is acting as ‘a saboteur, not a martyr’ in app store challenge

Apple Inc. is asking a court to reject Epic Games Inc.’s latest bid to get Fortnite back on the App Store, saying the game maker is acting as “a saboteur, not a martyr” in its challenge to Apple’s payment system.

In an overnight filing, Apple said “Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this court for emergency assistance in putting it out.” Epic can fix the problem “by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years.”

Epic sued Apple on Aug. 13, claiming the removal of the Fortnite app from the App Store was “retaliation” for the game maker’s decision to offer in-app purchases through its own marketplace, circumventing Apple’s payment system. Epic has renewed a request for a court order that would reinstate the app on the store. Apple last week filed a countersuit to stop the game maker from using its own payment system for Fortnite, escalating one of the most closely watched legal battles in the tech sector.

Citing the #freefortnite campaign, Apple said Epic isn’t suffering reputational harm due to the fight. “Epic has engaged in a full-scale, pre-planned media blitz surrounding its decision to breach its agreement with Apple, creating ad campaigns around the effort that continue to this day.”

Apple told the court that removing the game from its store wasn’t anticompetitive because Epic’s players can use other mobile devices or PCs, laptops, or gaming consoles. “Only a fraction of Epic’s customers access Fortnite using an iPhone, and Epic’s revenues from other platforms greatly exceed its revenues from iPhone players,” Apple said.

“It is clear that Epic doesn’t want to pay commissions to Apple, even though it agreed to do so,” Apple said. “There is nothing anticompetitive about charging others to use one’s service.”

The case is Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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