COMMENT: ICLE Experts Available to Discuss Epic v Apple Decision

PORTLAND, Ore. (Sept. 10, 2021) — Antitrust and competition experts from the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) are available to discuss today’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in litigation between Apple Inc. and Epic Games Inc. over certain App Store rules.

“The headline finding of the opinion—that Apple is not a monopolist in the market for digital mobile gaming transactions and that App Store rules do not violate federal antitrust law—was appropriate and should be regarded as a victory for competition,”  ICLE President and Founder Geoffrey Manne said. “That bottom line, however, does not convey all the nuance of the opinion’s analysis, which in numerous areas reaches troubling conclusions.”

Judge Gonzalez Rogers also separately enjoined Apple from enforcing “anti-steering” rules that prohibit apps from directing users to outside payment methods. On the injunction, ICLE Director of Competition Policy Sam Bowman added: “The court’s injunction is vaguely written and is likely to be interpreted quite differently by different parties involved. But if it allows app developers to link users outside of the in-app payments flow, and bypass Apple’s IAP fees, it would enable free riding and undermine the incentive for Apple to invest in iOS, the iPhone, or—for its competitors—in whatever product might someday displace it through competition.” 

“The winners are likely to be large companies like Epic, Amazon, and Match, who will be able to keep more profit for themselves, but it is hard to see how either consumers or innovation will benefit,” Bowman said.

In April, ICLE published a short explainer on the case, “Apple v. Epic: The Value of Closed Systems.” For more commentary on competition in the digital app store market, see Senior Fellow Dirk Auer’s earlier piece on the Epic lawsuit at the Truth on the Market website. Also on Truth on the Market, ICLE Associate Director Legal Research Ben Sperry looked at whether self-preferencing by Apple in the App Store harmed consumers. 

Manne wrote in the journal Concurrences about why actions to stop platform self-preferencing are misguided. And in an article published in the Nebraska Law Review, Manne and ICLE Director of Innovation Policy Kristian Stout examined the nature of the relationship between app stores, consumers, and app developers in the context of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Apple v. Pepper

Media interested in interviewing or booking Geoffrey Manne to discuss the decision may reach him at [email protected] or (503) 780-8515; Sam Bowman is available at +07-59-682-6323 or [email protected]; Senior Fellow Dirk Auer is available at [email protected] or +32-47-293-8401.