Epic Games faces setback in Apple lawsuit with trial date pushed back to 2024


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The trial for Epic Games’ Australian lawsuit against Apple has been pushed back to 2024 as the presiding judge believes there is potential for the proceedings to be consolidated with a similar dispute between Epic Games and Google, which could lessen the chance for legal uncertainties. The Epic-Apple trial had originally been set for November this year while the Google trial is not expected until 2024.

Justice Nye Perram explained he wanted to push back the Epic-Apple trial date to align with the Epic-Google one as the larger time gap could give rise to practical and procedural problems such as forcing the federal court to undergo a trial on the same issue on different evidence.

“It is not realistic to expect that the opinions of one set of economic experts on the market issues in the first case can be put out of mind when embarking upon the hearing of the same issue on different evidence in the second case. Consequently, this may well give rise to an apprehension of bias,” Perram said.

“All in all, it is best not to cross any of these one-way bridges at this time.”

While Epic and Apple had both indicated last month the trial could not realistically take place in November, Epic wanted the trial to be heard in mid-2023.

With this latest change, the Epic-Apple trial is now set for March 2024.

For the Epic-Google trial, Perram did not set a trial date but Epic and Google have both agreed they would not be ready for a hearing before late 2023 or early 2024.

Prior to the latest change, the Epic-Apple case had already undergone various stops and starts, including two appeals where one of them put the case on hold last year. Epic immediately appealed that pause, however, and won, allowing it to recommence the case. Three Federal Court judges granted Epic’s appeal as they found the case involves fundamental public interest issues in relation to conduct undertaken in an Australian sub-market.

In both cases, Epic is contending Apple and Google have app store practices that are anti-competitive towards developers. The games developer first took issue with the two tech giants when its flagship game Fortnite was booted off their app stores for introducing a new payment system that sidestepped the tech giants’ payment systems and in-app purchase commissions.

Epic Games then went on to file antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google across numerous jurisdictions, such as Australia, the US, EU, and UK.

“Apple’s conduct has hindered or prevented, and continues to hinder or prevent, Epic and other app developers and in-app content payment providers from competing or effectively competing in the iOS App Distribution Market and the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market,” Epic Games said in its originating claim for the Australian lawsuit.

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