Apple isn’t sitting idly by as the legal battle between it and Epic Games continues to gain momentum. The iPhone maker has now filed counterclaims against Epic Games accusing the company of breach of contract and asking the court to award Apple damages due to that alleged transgression.
The exact size of those damages is unknown currently, likely due to the fact that Apple is asking the court to award it a slice of the money Fortnite brought in with Epic's unsanctioned payment method on iOS. In addition to damages equal to what Apple categorizes as Epic’s ill-gotten gains, it is also seeking a permanent injunction that would block Epic Games’ payment processing service on iOS.
It’s a reaction that goes right to the source of the current dispute between Apple and Epic, a dispute Apple says in today’s legal documents took the form of a well orchestrated “sneak assault on the App Store.”
That alleged sneak attack took the form of a quiet Fortnite update that gave players the ability to bypass Apple’s official in-app payment methods, thus locking Apple out of its usual 30 percent revenue cut. Apple responded that same day by pulling Fortnite from the App Store for violating its App Store Guidelines causing Epic to rapidly file the lawsuit against Apple it had ready and waiting accusing the company of anti-competitive behavior.
Epic maintains that Apple’s refusal to allow external storefronts or payment methods on iOS is anti-competitive behavior. Meanwhile, Apple moved to revoke Epic Games developer account over the violation, a move it says is standard but Epic saw as retaliation as it would impact its properties beyond just Fortnite. Currently, a temporary restraining order is preventing Apple from removing some aspects of Epic’s developer dealings (specifically the ones that relate to Unreal Engine) as the court begins to mull over Epic’s full injunction ask.
The entirely of this latest filing echoes much of what Apple's said since the beginning of those whole affair: that Epic has benefited immensely from Apple's App Store and technology and that its cries of anti-competitive behavior stem from its own desire to make money from Apple's platforms.
“There is nothing anti-competitive about charging a commission for others to use one’s service," argues Apple. "Many platforms—including Epic’s own app marketplace and Unreal Engine—do just that.”