Epic Games’ Australian lawsuit against Apple has been postponed to 2024, as the presiding judge believes the proceedings could be consolidated with a similar dispute between Epic Games and Google, which could reduce the potential for legal uncertainties . The Epic-Apple trial was originally scheduled for November this year, while the Google trial isn’t expected until 2024.
Justice Nye Perram explained that he wanted to push the Epic-Apple trial date back to align it with the Epic-Google date, as the greater time difference could give rise to practical and procedural issues, such as forcing the federal court to undergo a trial on the same matter on different evidence.
“It is unrealistic to expect that the opinions of a group of economic experts on the market issues in the first case can be thrown out of mind when in the second case the treatment of the same problem is started on different evidences. Consequently, this would be could give rise to a fear of bias,” Perram said.
“All in all, right now it’s best not to cross any of these one-way bridges.”
While Epic and Apple both indicated last month that the November trial might not be realistic, Epic wanted the trial to be heard by mid-2023.
With this latest change, the Epic-Apple trial is now scheduled for March 2024.
Perram hasn’t set a trial date for the Epic-Google trial, but Epic and Google both agree they wouldn’t be ready for a hearing before late 2023 or early 2024.
Prior to the latest change, the Epic-Apple case had already had several stops and starts, including two appeals where one of them put the case on hold last year. However, Epic immediately appealed that break and won, allowing it to resume the case. Three federal judges upheld Epic’s appeal, finding that the case concerns fundamental public interest issues relating to conduct in an Australian submarket.
In either case, Epic claims that Apple and Google have app store practices that are anti-competitive for developers. The game developer first ran afoul of the two tech giants when its flagship game Fortnite was booted from their app stores for the introduction of a new payment system that bypassed the tech giants’ payment systems and in-app purchase commissions.
Epic Games subsequently filed antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google in numerous jurisdictions, such as Australia, the US, the EU and the UK.
“Apple’s conduct has hindered or prevented Epic and other app developers and in-app content payment providers from, and continues to prevent or hinder, compete or effectively compete in the iOS app distribution market and the iOS market for in-app payment processing,” Epic Games said in its original claim for the Australian lawsuit.
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