Epic Games’ crusade in Europe against tech giant Apple has reached a new checkpoint, as a UK judge ruled that the case would not be served while a similar trial in US is still ongoing.
The judge added that if “the US courts would not grant injunctive relief extending to the UK, that would in my judgment be a powerful factor in favour of holding that this country is clearly or distinctly the appropriate forum.”
The two companies had clashed for the first time in August 2020 when Apple had removed Epic Games’ popular video game Fortnite from its App Store, thus preventing players from installing the game on iPhones. It came after a Fortnite update that let players buy in-game currency at a lower rate if they bought direct from maker Epic Games, thus bypassing Apple. Later, Epic took the fight to the European Union (EU), lodging a complaint to the UK’s antitrust tribunal at the end of 2020, alleging that Apple’s decision was an unlawful one.
After the ruling, Epic said it would reconsider its stance of pursuing Apple in the United Kingdom after the US case has been settled, but would not stop fighting to even the playing field. An Epic Games spokesperson said:
“We are pleased that the Court has granted Epic permission to pursue our case against Google in the U.K. Epic will reconsider pursuing its case against Apple in the U.K. after the resolution of the U.S. case. We note the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s assessment that Apple and Google’s anticompetitive app store policies are ‘serious issues to be tried’ under UK Competition law, and that it is ‘well arguable’ that their conduct has ‘an immediate and substantial effect in the UK’. We are unwavering in our commitment to stopping Apple and Google’s anti-competitive practices and will continue to fight for fairer app distribution globally.”
The judge also added that a similar lawsuit made by Alphabet Inc.’s Google could move forward. Epic, in a bid to reinstate the popular battle royale video game, has been involved in legal disputes with both tech giants, even filing a complaint with European Union regulators earlier in February, saying that Apple should not be able to “block or tax a transaction” through other payment services.
Apple has not been the most reliable gatekeeper for apps that can appear on iPhones or iPads, having attracted the scrutiny of the antitrust tribunal of the EU.