Apple court filing claims Epic's 'Fortnite' setup is like shoplifting

The tech giant asked a court not to temporarily reverse Epic's App Store ban.

Savusia Konstantin via Getty Images

Apple has asked a court not to temporarily reverse the App Store ban the company issued to Epic Games shortly after it broke its developer guidelines by accepting direct payments through Fortnite (via Axios). Apple argues the current predicament Epic finds itself is one it brought upon itself. "In the wake of its own voluntary actions, Epic now seeks emergency relief," the company says in the legal brief. "But the 'emergency' is entirely of Epic's own making."

In a separate declaration, Apple Fellow Phil Schiller said Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic, emailed the company on June 30th to request a "special deal with only Epic." According to Schiller, the studio asked Apple to let iOS users download its games from its own Epic Games Store app. Had Apple agreed to the request, Epic would have been able to skirt the company's 30 percent developer fee. Sweeney disputes Epic sought special treatment.

"When Apple refused to fundamentally alter the way it does business to appease Epic, Epic resorted to sudden, unilateral action that blatantly breached its contracts with Apple, and simultaneously filed this lawsuit, which seeks to justify its deliberate breaches after the fact," Schiller said.

The tech giant goes on to compare Epic's recent attempt to bypass the App Store by allowing Fortnite players to buy in-game currency to shoplifting. "If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid."

Apple delisted Fortnite on August 13th shortly after Epic started offering discounts on the title's in-game currency if players bypassed the App Store. Shortly afterward, Epic responded by launching a lawsuit against Apple in which it claimed the App Store violates antitrust law. It also found time to parody Apple's famous 1984 Macintosh ad. Later that same day, Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store. Epic responded with a lawsuit there as well.

The legal battle Apple and Epic find themselves locked in is a risky one for both companies. Apple faces the potential of drawing even more scrutiny to itself. Meanwhile, Epic could see Fortnite permanently barred from the App Store and without a way to update the Unreal Engine, which many third-party developers depend on for their iOS games. The court will hear Epic's request for a restraining order on Monday.