Apple court filing accuses Epic of being a stalking horse for Microsoft

Apple court filing accuses Epic of being a stalking horse for Microsoft
On the eve of Apple CEO Tim Cook's testimony in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit, accusations that Apple made on Wednesday against Epic and Microsoft have everybody following the trial talking about it. In a filing that Apple submitted Wednesday to the judge, the company asked the court to make an adverse credibility finding against Xbox executive Lori Wright. Wright had testified on behalf of Epic and such a ruling would allow the judge to ignore Wright's testimony which was in favor of Epic.

Apple accuses Epic of being a "stalking horse" for Microsoft"

Remember, this is a bench trial which means that there is no jury and the final decision will come from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Wednesday's filing was the second time that Apple requested an adverse credibility finding against Wright, but this time Apple stated that "A reasonable observer might wonder whether Epic is serving as a stalking horse for Microsoft. Microsoft shielded itself from meaningful discovery in this litigation by not appearing as a party or sending a corporate representative to testify."

In other words, Apple argues that Epic is doing Microsoft's dirty work for it even though the case is about Apple's removal of Epic's popular Fortnite game from the App Store after Epic failed to adhere to Apple's App Store rules. The rules demand that developers use only Apple's platform to run in-app payments, giving Apple a 30% cut of the revenue.

Epic offered its customers looking to purchase game currency in-app for Fortnite, the use of its own platform which allowed the game players to pay a lower price for the currency than what they would have paid in the App Store. Apple responded by kicking the game out of its iOS app storefront. Last week, an Apple executive said that the company made no less than $100 million in the 30 months that Fortnite was available in the App Store.

Despite the fact that Epic is the plaintiff, Apple points out that of the ten witnesses presented by the game developer, five were associated with Microsoft. Apple also said that "Microsoft is using Epic as a proxy plaintiff in litigation that it refuses to prosecute in its own name." Epic is trying to show that Apple's 30% cut of in-app purchases is anticompetitive.

In a statement released on Thursday, Microsoft said, "Apple is trying to distract from legitimate concerns from many companies across the industry about its App Store policies and practices, including its refusal to allow game streaming in the Apple App Store. Epic speaks and acts for itself, and Microsoft and many other companies have raised concerns through our own voices, including directly with Apple itself."

Closing Arguments from both sides could take place as soon as Monday

Besides Epic (and possibly Microsoft), other companies that have publicly challenged the competitiveness of the so-called 30% Apple Tax include music streamer Spotify and video streaming service Netflix. While Google also takes a similar cut of in-app purchases made in the Google Play Store, the fact that it allows Android users to sideload apps from third-party app stores makes it more competitive than the closed off App Store according to many.

Microsoft says that the testimony presented by Xbox's Wright was involuntary, thoughtful, and forthright. The software giant added "That Apple does not like Ms. Wright’s testimony is clear. That Apple has no basis to challenge the substance of her testimony is equally clear."

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Weighing in on Wright's testimony and Apple's motion seeking the adverse credibility finding, Epic said that Apple was "not surprised" at the trial and it called Wright's testimony "predictable."  Meanwhile, we could be coming to the end of the trial with closing arguments for both firms expected to take place this coming Monday. It is unknown how long the judge will take before rendering her decision.

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