Australia’s highest court has rejected Apple’s bid to put its app marketplace case against Epic Games on hold, meaning the hearing for the matter will definitely be set for November next year.
The legal spat between the companies arose last year when Fortnite was booted off Apple and Google’s app stores for introducing a new payment system that sidestepped the tech giants’ payment systems and in-app purchase commissions.
Shortly after receiving the boot, Epic Games filed antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google across numerous jurisdictions, including in Australia. In all those lawsuits, Epic Games has accused the tech giants of conducting anti-competitive and monopolistic practices due to their 30% commission fee structures.
Despite the crux of the Australian lawsuit — that being the anti-competition accusations — not yet reaching the courtroom, it has already faced numerous layers of red tape just for an undisputed hearing date to be set.
The High Court decision wraps up a series of administrative appeals made by both Epic Games and Apple; Epic Games had fought for the lawsuit to go ahead while Apple repeatedly sought to stay the proceedings.
The administrative back and forth first began in April, when Justice Nye Perram at the Federal Court stayed the case’s proceedings as he wanted to see the outcome of a similar lawsuit being heard in the US before continuing with the Australian case.
Epic Games then appealed that decision and won , which allowed for the case to recommence. Three other Federal Court judges granted the appeal as they found the case involves fundamental public interest issues in relation to conduct undertaken in an Australian sub-market.
Apple then appealed the Epic Games win, but Perram rejected that appeal as he did not want to delay the proceedings any further, given the case had already faced two appeals.
Not happy with that outcome, Apple then attempted to raise another appeal, which has culminated in this latest decision where the High Court has rejected Apple’s application for special leave to appeal for a stay to the proceedings.
With the High Court decision, Apple now has no further appeal options and a court hearing for the actual case — not for whether the case should go ahead — will go ahead on November 22 next year.
Both parties are now preparing for a potential appellate hearing regarding the mixed ruling in the United States. As Epic Games continues its legal fight against Apple, it’s now been over 15 months since the games developer was banned from the App Store ecosystem.
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