In closing Epic against Apple, the judge is considering the ramifications of updating Apple’s App Store
© Reuters. Apple and Epic attorneys speak with Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers during a weeklong antitrust trial in federal court in Oakland, Calif., The United States, on May 24, 2021 in this court sketch. REUTERS / Vicki Behringer
By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers (NYSE 🙂 made unconventional final arguments in the antitrust proceedings between Epic Games and Apple Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 on Monday and spent three hours explaining to lawyers on both sides how far she could – and should – go To change Apple’s App Store store.
App makers and regulators around the world are following the process, and Gonzalez Rogers has hinted at Apple on sharp questions that it may be susceptible to some of the claims made by Fortnite game developers that Apple is abusing its control of the App Store and violating developers .
Last week the federal judge said Apple’s App Store profits from game makers were “disproportionate,” but on Monday she asked Epic if there was a way to address its concerns without forcing Apple to open the iPhone to competing app stores, as suggested by Epic.
That would be a profound change and “courts don’t do business,” she said. She also noted the coincidence a change would mean for Epic, whose own efforts to open a competing paid app store were discussed during the test.
“Let’s be clear. Epic is here because when relief is given it goes from a multi-billion dollar company to a multi-trillion dollar company. But it doesn’t do it out of the goodness of its heart.” , she said .
Epic attorney Gary Bornstein stuck to the request Epic has made since filing the case last year: Force Apple to open the iPhone to competing app stores and prevent developers from in- Must use the app payment system.
Gonzalez Rogers said that following the changes Epic proposed, it is likely that the company would not pay Apple anything, a fact that “worried” them throughout the process.
Tim Sweeney, Epic’s chief executive, who led the company’s legal strategy and participated in the entire trial, is attacking “the fundamental way Apple generates revenue,” said Gonzalez Rogers. “There is a reasonable argument for (Apple) using these profits for the benefit of the entire ecosystem.”
At times Gonzalez Rogers questioned other issues, such as an Apple rule that prohibits developers from using email addresses collected from iPhone users to find ways to bypass Apple’s in-app purchase system.
“Apple’s hiding this information in a way that doesn’t directly affect the consumer appears to be anti-competitive,” she said.
During the day, Apple’s lawyers argued that Epic’s sweeping inquiries would make Apple just like the Android system, which would significantly reduce consumer choice.
“Apple wants to differentiate its product,” said Apple lawyer Veronica Moye. Anyone who wants third-party app stores “can buy an Android device. The relief required here is to force Apple to take a competing product off the market.”
To make her decision, the judge must flip through 4,500 pages of testimony, a process she said could take months.
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