Apple has received support from several avenues in new briefs filed in its upcoming appeal trial against Epic Games.
Apple has appealed a largely-favorable ruling passed down by the court in a lawsuit filed by Epic Games against the company, which claims Apple has a monopoly over transactions and app distribution on its iOS ecosystem. Now, as round two approaches, several parties including former top-ranking security officials say they support Apple.
The first submission comes from the billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation. As noted by Bloomberg:
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, founded by Charles Koch and his late brother, David, and known for supporting libertarian conservative causes, was the first to submit a filing on Thursday’s deadline for groups to weigh in on Apple’s side in its battle with Epic Games Inc., the maker of Fortnite.
The non-profit foundation argues the judge’s legal analysis was faulty, emphasizing that antitrust laws are meant to protect competition, “not competitors.”
Also filing in favor of Apple was developer Roblox, whose App Store “experiences” were a key talking point during the initial trial. In a filing shared by FOSS Patens’ Florian Mueller, Roblox says that it can “attest to the benefits” of Apple’s App Store business model, stating that the review and approval process of apps enhances safety and security and that it has experienced growth and success because of Apple, but also through other platforms.
Another group that filed in favor voiced the concern of nearly two-dozen security experts and former U.S. officials. Via CNN:
The star-studded list of signatories includes Gen. Michael Hayden and John Brennan, the former CIA directors, along with Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence and NSA director. Others signing onto the friend-of-the-court submission include William Evanina, former director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center; the longtime national security expert Richard Clarke; and various others with past roles at the Pentagon, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.
“Requiring Apple devices to accept third-party apps and app stores necessarily increases the risk of malware on iOS devices, which directly correlates to an increased risk to national security,” the former officials wrote.
The Washington Legal Foundation also submitted a briefing. Epic Games is not without its own third-party support, notably, a bipartisan cohort of 35 state attorney generals have co-signed a filing stating the court erred in concluding Apple did not violate antitrust law. Crucially, the attorney general of California did not sign on to the filing, and in its own brief says it supports neither party and that it simply wants the court to properly apply California’s Unfair Competition Law in accordance with California Law.
The case continues to drag on, and likely won’t even be heard in court until next year.
Meanwhile, Apple continues to face growing pressure and antitrust scrutiny in other markets, such as the EU and the Netherlands, both of which are working to force open the iOS ecosystem, allowing alternative App Store payments and possibly even sideloading in the future.