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Supreme Court rejects review of Apple-Epic Games case

The Supreme Court declined to review a ruling in an antitrust case between Apple and Epic Games that largely leaves Apple’s App Store rules in place, the court announced Tuesday.

Although the ruling was mostly in Apple’s favor, the Supreme Court’s decision to decline the case means Apple must comply with a portion of the lower courts’ ruling that called for Apple to amend its App Store rules that limit developers from telling users about other payment methods.

Both Apple and Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, requested the Supreme Court review the case, which was ruled mostly in Apple’s favor in September 2021 by California Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and upheld by the Ninth Circuit in April 2023.

The case centered on Epic Games’s allegations that Apple’s App Store rules are anti-competitive. The charge followed Apple booting Epic from its App Store when the company violated Apple’s rules by offering an alternative way for users to download its app to avoid the 15 percent to 30 percent commission fees from in-app purchases that Apple collects.

The lower courts’ rulings, which remain in place, allow Apple to be the sole distributor of apps on its smart devices, meaning app developers must comply with Apple’s rules in order to reach customers using Apple’s smart devices, such as the iPhone.

However, the ruling included a partial win on Epic’s side that found Apple’s so-called anti-steering restrictions, which keep users from learning about alternative payment methods, are anti-competitive. The ruling included an injunction to force Apple to allow developers to direct customers to alternative payment methods.

That injunction has yet to go into effect, though, as the case was under potential further review. The Ninth Circuit delayed implementing the injunction as Apple pursued a Supreme Court appeal, and in August the Supreme Court denied Epic’s bid to allow it to go into place as the case was under consideration, Reuters reported.

Apple will have to consider its next steps to comply.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the appeals of both sides is a “sad outcome for all developers.”

However, he also noted the injunction that allows developers to let customers know about “better prices on the web” will go into effect.

“These awful Apple-mandated confusion screens are over and done forever,” Sweeney said.

An Apple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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