Thursday, January 18, 2024

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Apple v. Epic Case

Hartley Charlton (Hacker News):

The United States Supreme Court today declined to hear separate requests from both Apple and Epic Games in their long-standing lawsuit against each other with regards to App Store rules.


As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision today, the previous rulings stand and Apple is able to continue to disallow third-party payment processing within apps, but will have to allow developers to inform users about other purchasing options outside of the App Store.

John Voorhees:

That’s not the same as the Supreme Court ruling against either party, as I’ve seen reported in some places. In fact, it’s the opposite of a ruling. The Supreme Court decided not to decide. That’s significant because it carries no weight as legal precedent. Had the Supreme Court ruled, the decision would have been binding on all other US federal courts. As it stands, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision is binding precedent for the federal courts in that district only. That’s it. Parties can argue about the issues decided by the District Court and the Ninth Circuit in other districts, but they aren’t binding on those courts.


Judge Gonzalez Rodgers can sleep well knowing her decision won’t be second-guessed, but as we’ve already seen from the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s non-decision, legal battles between big companies that don’t like each other and have a lot of money never really end.

Epic’s Tim Sweeney immediately proclaimed that Epic Games would contest Apple’s “bad-faith compliance plan.” […] So now, the fight is over whether what Apple has done is sufficient to steer clear of California’s anti-steering law.


The main takeaway is that it’s clear that Apple isn’t going to change the way it runs the App Store without a legal fight or government regulation.

Tim Sweeney:

The court battle to open iOS to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States. A sad outcome for all developers.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple has asked the court to allow it to bill Epic for its litigation expenses, which amount to a whopping $73,404,326. According to gamesfray’s Florian Mueller, Apple came up with the number by totaling up the $82,971,401 in legal costs it spent on the case, and then adjusted that number down to $81,560,362. Apple then deducted 10% since Epic prevailed on 1 of 10 counts (Apple’s anti-steering rule).

Apple bases the claim on Epic’s original violation of its developer agreement, when out of the blue its Fortnite game offered an in-app payment alternative on the App Store. Epic previously accepted that it would owe damages if it lost its antitrust claims against Apple. Now that it has, Apple has issued the bill.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

This is because when you sign the Apple Developer agreement, which you must in order to publish software for the iPhone, you also agreement to indemnify and pay all their legal fees, if you sue them, and they convince a judge you somehow breached this compelled agreement 🤯

Adi Robertson:

Epic remains unsuccessful in its bid to make Apple allow it back onto the App Store[…]

It’s unclear to me whether this is because Epic refuses to follow the guidelines or because Apple has given them a permanent ban. It sounds to me like the latter. Although Apple once said that it wanted Fortnite back in the store if only Epic would comply with the guidelines, Apple’s most recent statement was that there is no basis for reinstatement of Epic’s developer account. So they can’t even submit a new build for review.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

It’s unsurprising but worth noting that Fortnite is seemingly never coming back to iOS, unless Epic sells the franchise to another company. iOS Fortnite players are like the children in an ugly divorce.


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