Apple on Tuesday shot back in its legal battle with Fortnite creator Epic Games, filing a response and counterclaims alleging that the gaming company breached its contract with Apple and seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
“Epic’s lawsuit is nothing more than a basic disagreement over money,” Apple said in a filing with the District Court for the Northern District of California. “Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store.”
The dispute between Apple and Epic Games began on Aug. 13, when Epic Games published a version of Fortnite to the Apple App Store that included a method for users to pay for in-game content without giving Apple its usual 30% cut. Apple removed the app from the App Store, and Epic Games sued Apple later in the day.
Apple followed up by suspending Epic Games’ developer account on Aug. 28, which prevents the company from creating new apps or updating Fortnite on Apple’s platforms.
Apple is now going one step further, asking the court to hold Epic liable for breach of contract and other counts, seeking restitution of all money Fortnite collected through its payment system, and seeking a permanent injunction banning its external payment mechanism in all apps, including Fortnite.
Apple’s response suggests it was blindsided by Epic, and even notes that Epic executives “recognized and thanked Apple for its support and promotion of Fortnite events” as recently as April 2020.
“Unbeknownst to Apple, Epic had been busy enlisting a legion of lawyers, publicists, and technicians to orchestrate a sneak assault on the App Store. Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on August 13, 2020, the morning on which Epic would activate its hidden commission-theft functionality, Mr. Sweeney again emailed Apple executives, declaring that ‘Epic will no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions.'”
Apple said in the filing that Epic Games has earned over $600 million from the App Store.
Epic Games has argued Apple is suppressing free-market competition and has asked for a preliminary injunction that would restore Fortnite back to the App Store and reinstate its developer account. A hearing is currently scheduled for late September, although the dates could change.