Epic v Apple: Australian antitrust case allowed to resume thanks to an overturned ruling

by | May 11, 2021

In December 2017, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that Apple would have to face a second round of court proceedings regarding an earlier investigation into whether the company had abused its market power. The costs of the case could be as high as $1 billion. This ruling comes four years after the ACCC first pursued Apple with a case in 2013. The first round of court proceedings ended with the company being ordered to pay $5 million in penalties.

Apple is currently being sued in Australia for alleged anticompetitive practices. A ruling from the Supreme Court of New South Wales (NSW), in which Apple comes off the worse, has allowed the proceedings to resume, but it will take a couple of more months to see a verdict and a final outcome. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the primary American authority on antitrust and related issues, has been investigating the matter for a year and is expected to complete its investigation in March. If it brings a case, Apple could be fined up to $US2.2 billion.

While most of the attention has naturally been focused on the antitrust case between Epic Games, Apple and Google in the US, that’s not the only legal battleground. In fact, Epic Games has filed with the Australian court a complaint similar to the one filed in California last November. At the time, the judge in the case granted Apple a three-month reprieve that would have been permanent had Epic not filed the case in the US, but that decision was reversed last Friday.

Epic appealed to the Federal Circuit, arguing that the public policy issues at stake in the case were more important than the technical legal details. The Court agreed and overturned Judge Nye Perram’s decision, clearing the way for further proceedings. This is a positive step forward for Australian consumers and developers who are entitled to fair access and competitive pricing in mobile app stores, Epic said in a statement. We look forward to continuing our fight for more competition in app distribution and payment processing in Australia and around the world.

Of course, Apple plans to appeal the decision, according to a statement : The Australian Federal Court’s first ruling in April correctly stated that Epic must abide by the agreement it made to settle the California lawsuit.

As for the case on our side of the world, readers will recall that testimony and closing arguments took place in May of this year. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers said she would not rule on the case for now because of the amount of testimony and documents presented in the case.

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