US states and Microsoft back Epic Games in fight against the App Store

US states and Microsoft back Epic Games in fight against the App Store

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Epic Games vs. the App Store
It's getting harder for Apple to defend its rules.
Image: Epic Games

The Department of Justice, 35 U.S. states, and Microsoft have all backed Fortnite developer Epic Games in its fight against the App Store.

Briefs filed by Epic’s supporters with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit say last year’s ruling — which said the App Store was not a monopoly — is wrong. They also claim Apple is stifling competition.

Epic gets plenty of support in battle against Apple

Despite seeing some success in its massive legal battle against Apple last year, Epic is not happy that the original September ruling did not deem the App Store a monopoly. The company is still calling for more relaxed App Store rules.

As part of its appeal, Epic has secured significant support from the Biden administration (through the Department of Justice), 35 state attorneys general, and Microsoft — which have all filed briefs in Epic’s favor this week.

“All of the most populous states except California,” which may support Epic but is keeping quiet about it, “are on that list of signatories,” noted Foss Patents’ Florian Mueller. And the filings “are not just ‘nice to have.'”

“This kind of support is mission-critical,” Mueller said. He also warned Apple that “change is coming, the question is just when and where.”

A long way to go

These developments are just the latest in a long and ever-increasing string of movements against Apple’s current rules for iPhone and iPad apps, which prohibit third-party payments, side-loading, and lots more.

Apple argues that its tight controls are necessary for maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace. But others — which include developers, regulators, and Apple users — say they go too far by stifling freedom and competition.

It’s still incredibly difficult to predict how all this will turn out, but one thing’s clear: Apple is going to have to fight incredibly hard to try to maintain the vice-like grip it has over the App Store today. And it’s unlikely to get all it wants.

Some countries and regulators have already demanded changes. South Korea and the Netherlands have said the App Store must allow third-party payments. The U.S. has said the same, but that’s on hold while Apple appeals it.