On Friday, a federal judge in California ruled that Epic Games was unable to prove that Cupertino tech giant Apple was a monopolist. However, she left the ruling open so that others might help prove it in future. Epic Games, however, won on another issue, of anticompetitive conduct and Apple is required to make the necessary changes in its business model.
In her judgement, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote that although the court noted that Apple had a considerable market share of more than 55 percent and had extraordinarily high margins of profit, these factors were insufficient to show antitrust conduct as “success” was “not illegal.”
She also said that the final trial record failed to include evidence of other critical factors including “barriers to entry and conduct decreasing output or decreasing innovation in the relevant market.” She said that the Court did not find it impossible but only noted that Epic Games was unable to show that “Apple is an illegal monopolist.”
With her ruling, the judge has left open possibilities for appeal or for other lawsuits to take it forward. The Department of Justice has brought a similar suit against Google on its App Store practices. POLITICO had reported that the Department of Justice had been waiting for the judgement on Epic Games’ suit before proceeding against big tech.
Judge Rogers said that Apple exhibited anticompetitive conduct by not allowing developers to inform customers directly about their own payment mechanisms that they could use instead of payment through Apple. She ordered the tech company to let developers include external links to their own tools as well as to the purchasing mechanism available in the App Store.
This part of the ruling is a partial victory for Epic Games and other developers as it will force Apple to change its business model. This ruling will help Epic Games as well as other developers who offer their apps in Apple’s App Store to offer their own payment processing services and Apple’s App Store will no longer be the only way for customers to purchase apps.
Apple has been slowly adjusting policies that have the potential of becoming lawsuits in future. These new policies will make it difficult for regulators or rivals relying on their services to pursue legal action in future.