Bids to Overturn Apple App Store Antitrust Decision Rejected by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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Photo Credit: Sergey Galyonkin / CC by 2.0

Apple and Epic Games failed to convince the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling in an antitrust dispute over Apple’s App Store.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in April in a closely-watched antitrust dispute over Apple’s operation of its App Store was a partial win for both Apple and Epic Games, creator of the popular game Fortnite. But both companies failed to convince the court on Friday to reconsider its findings.

The court said Apple must let app developers direct users to alternative payment options — but it blocked Epic’s move to force Apple to allow third-party app marketplaces onto its operating system. Further, the appeals court reversed a lower court’s order that Epic wasn’t required to pay Apple’s attorney fees after suing the tech giant.

The Ninth Circuit denied both companies’ rehearing requests without explanation; should Apple or Epic choose to pursue further litigation, the next step would be a petition to the US Supreme Court.

Apple’s petition for rehearing argued that the court’s decision would prevent the company from “deploying one of the tools it uses to protect security and privacy, and thereby compete with other platforms.”

“The uncontradicted evidence at trial showed that virtually every online platform has adopted anti-steering (or anti-circumvention) rules similar to Apple’s,” the company argued.

Meanwhile, Epic argued in its petition that Apple “blocks the development of more innovative and higher-quality app stores and payment solutions — including those that would provide greater privacy and security — and reduces its investment in its own products.”

The panel unanimously denied both petitions for rehearing. Further, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. voted to reject the petitions for rehearing en banc (wherein the entire appellate court would sit to review the case), joined by Judge Sidney R. Thomas and District of Oregon Judge Michael J. McShane.