Apple fires back at ‘Fortnite’ owner Epic Games in a countersuit

Epic and other app developers have complained publicly recently about the 30 percent fee Apple charges on all revenue earned on its App Store. Epic has said in court that Apple can charge such high fees because it is effectively a monopoly. The App Store is the only way iPhone owners can download and install mobile apps on their phones, and Apple alone writes the store’s rules.

In its court filing Tuesday, Apple denied that it is a monopoly and filed a countersuit, claiming that Epic is in breach of its contract. “In the dark hours of the night, Epic launched its underhanded scheme to breach its agreements and free ride on Apple’s investments,” Apple wrote in the filing.

Epic is not asking for monetary damages in its lawsuit and has said it hopes to break Apple’s tight grip on the App Store for all developers.

Apple blocked Epic from updating its apps on the App Store because it offered its “Fortnite” customers an alternative way to pay for the game, without using Apple’s payment system. The alternative method was cheaper, Epic says, because it avoided Apple’s 30 percent cut on revenue.

But Apple didn’t just block “Fortnite.” It also took action against Unreal Engine, a tool for video game makers that Epic also sells. Epic asked U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez to force Apple to restore “Fortnite” and Unreal Engine temporarily while the case makes its way through the courts. Gonzalez declined to force Apple to restore “Fornite” but sided with Epic on Unreal Engine.

In its countersuit Tuesday, Apple cited the contract that all app developers must sign before offering software on the App Store. “Epic’s breach was flagrant and larcenous,” Apple wrote. “Epic breached the License Agreement by making changes without resubmission to Apple Epic.” Apple wants Gonzalez to force Epic to pay Apple for lost revenue stemming from the alleged breach.

Epic did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.