Apple has responded to Epic Games’ recent motion for a preliminary injunction by seeking damages from the company for breaching the iOS App Store contract.
In a court filing entered Tuesday, Apple claimed Epic unjustly enriched itself and interfered with Apple’s relationship with its customers.
“Epic’s flagrant disregard for its contractual commitments and other misconduct has caused significant harm to Apple,” says the filing. “Left unchecked, Epic’s conduct threatens the very existence of the iOS ecosystem and its tremendous value to consumers.”
Apple also sought damages for harm to its reputation, such as Epic’s public relations campaign that included a parody of Apple’s ‘1984’ TV commercial and a playable character in Fortnite dubbed ‘Tart Tycoon.’ The character has an apple for its head and allegedly resembles Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The move comes after Epic filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction against Apple late Friday ahead of the long weekend. You can read the full details here, but in short, Epic argued that Apple should return Fortnite to the App Store, claiming the ban potentially caused Epic and the gaming community permanent harm. Epic also said the iOS Fortnite community is the largest, constituting about one third of the total player base across all platforms. It’s worth noting that Epic also accused Apple of threatening to block attempts to apply for a new developer account for “at least a year.”
Apple says it had legitimate business reasons for the actions taken against Epic
Apple’s filing includes several defences against Epic’s claim. The company maintains that it had legitimate business reasons and justifications for all the actions it undertook. Such a claim could undercut a broader antitrust claim, which is what Epic is hoping to prove with its lawsuit.
“At all times, [Apple’s] conduct was reasonable and … its actions were undertaken in good faith to advance legitimate business interests and had the effect of promoting, encouraging, and increasing competition,” the filing says.
Epic first sued Apple in August after the California-based company kicked Fortnite off the App Store over the inclusion of an unauthorized direct payment method. Epic accused Apple of violating antitrust law by using its control over iOS, the App Store and the rules governing both platforms to force app developers to pay it fees. Apple takes 30 percent of payments made to developers through its in-app payment system, but prohibits apps from using other payment management tools. It also charges the same 30 percent for subscriptions as well, although that drops to 15 percent after the first year.
Apple removed Fortnite and threatened to ban both Epic’s developer account as well as the company’s other accounts for things like Unreal Engine, a critical piece of software used to build games, movies and more. A court ruling prevented Apple from targeting anything aside from Epic’s developer account used for Fortnite and some other games, despite Epic’s request that the courts block Apple from banning the game.