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Microsoft, Meta, X and Match back Epic, say Apple ignores court ruling

Four major companies, including Xbox parent Microsoft, have weighed in on Epic’s ongoing legal dispute with Apple, supporting the former’s claim that the iOS firm is violating the court order given at the end of the 2021 antitrust trial.

Earlier this month, Epic argued that Apple’s process for adding in-app links to direct and alternative payment systems — avoiding the 30% fee for using iOS’ system — are “commercially unusable” and “entirely useless.”

Now Microsoft, Meta, X and Match have jointly filed an amicus brief with the Northern District of California, spotted by The Verge, which supports Epic’s motion for an injunction.

Microsoft, Meta and Match previously backed Epic during the trial, but this is the first time X (formerly Twitter) has joined the discussion.

The four companies, which all say they were affected by Apple’s anti-steering practices — make much the same arguments as Epic; primarily, that the requirement for a special ‘entitlement,’ the addition of a 27% commission on any proceeds, and other restrictions “clearly violates the Court’s orders.”

“By requiring developers to pay an inflated commission on out-of-app purchases made after a user clicks on an external payment link, Apple ensures that developers cannot offer consumers a viable alternative to IAP, much less a competitive alternative that could reduce prices for consumers,” the filing reads.

It later adds: “Apple’s new restrictions are plainly designed to render alternatives to Apple’s IAP impractical for developers, and inaccessible and unappealing to consumers, thus circumventing both the spirit and underlying goals of the injunction.”

Epic’s solitary victory after the 2021 antitrust trial was the judge ordering Apple to end its anti-steering practices with which it would prevent developers from directing app users to purchase options that did not go through iOS’ payment processing, thus entitling Apple to the much-debated 30% commission.

Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz told The Verge that the company has “fully complied with the injunction.”

Apple has said the new requirements around external payment links are “necessary to protect user privacy and security, maintain the integrity of Apple’s ecosystem, promote the flow of information, avoid user confusion, and enable efficient review of developers’ apps by App Review.”

Epic’s request for a new injunction will be dealt with at a hearing on April 30. Apple will be able to file a response before this.

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