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Apple seeks damages from Fortnite maker in App Store dispute

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Sep 09, 2020 - 07:08 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple on Tuesday asked a US federal court to order Fortnite maker Epic Games to pay damages in a legal dispute over the rules for the iPhone maker’s online marketplace.

The US tech giant asked for unspecified “compensatory and punitive damages” for breach of contract in its response to Epic’s lawsuit last month, which claimed Apple abused its dominance by requiring app developers to pay a 30 percent commission for payments through its App Store.

“Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multibillion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store,” Apple said in its petition filed in a federal court in California.

It argued that Epic “would like to reap the benefits of the App Store without paying anything for them.”

Apple said Epic has benefitted from the iOS ecosystem with some 130 million downloads in 174 countries, which earned Epic more than half a billion dollars, before changing its tune and seeking “special treatment.”

Epic has been seeking to convince the California court to reinstate the massively popular Fortnite game on the Apple App Store pending legal proceedings, arguing that doing so is in the “public interest.”

The two firms are battling over whether Apple’s tight control over the App Store, and its 30 percent cut of revenue, counts as monopolistic behavior.

Apple pulled Fortnite from its online mobile apps marketplace on August 13 after Epic released an update that avoids revenue sharing with the iPhone maker.

Last month, a US court rejected Epic’s bid to have Fortnite reinstated in the App Store, saying its eviction by Apple was a “self-inflicted wound.”

Due to the legal row, Fortnite fans using iPhones or other Apple products no longer have access to the latest game updates, including the new season released at the end of August.

Apple does not allow users of its popular devices to download apps from anywhere but its App Store.

The dispute comes with Apple and other tech giants facing increased scrutiny for their dominance in various economic sectors, allowing them to grow even as much of the economy contracts from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest filing, Apple disputed Epic’s characterization of its conduct as “retaliation,” saying it was only enforcing the rules agreed upon by both firms.

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