Epic Games has failed in its attempt to bring its Apple App Store legal dispute to the United Kingdom, with the Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling the dispute is outside its jurisdiction.
On January 14, Epic Games attempted to increase the pressure against Apple by filing a complaint against the iPhone maker in the United Kingdom. A complaint filed with the U.K. antitrust tribunal claimed it was unlawful for Apple to pull “Fortnite” from the App Store, and that Apple abused its “dominant position.”
In a ruling issued on Monday, the Competition Appeal Tribunal declared it wasn’t able to hear the case at all. Justice Roth, presiding over the virtual hearing that took place on Saturday, used the meeting to determine whether the court has any right to make a decision on the matter at all.
Epic’s legal action was against two of Apple’s organizations, covering Apple Inc. based in the United States, and Apple (UK) Limited. While the former is Apple itself, the latter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of its US counterpart.
Epic reasoned that the UK arm of Apple was a defendant alongside the US-based version as it “provides support to UK developers of apps.”
The claims of anti-competitive practices by Apple included the usual accusation that Apple was the sole channel for app distribution on iOS, that it used a dominant position to charge “unfair prices” for distribution, and Apple’s response to Epic’s sudden introduction of its own payment mechanism as “price competition.”
Ultimately, Justice Roth decided that Apple’s UK company provides services, but it was “not a party” to developer agreements, nor responsible for which apps made it into the App Store at all. “I find it difficult on this basis to see that (Apple UK) can be liable for any of the breaches of competition law alleged,” the court determined.
“Therefore I find there is no serious issue to be tried as against A2 (Apple UK), and it follows that the claim against A1 (Apple US) does not satisfy gateway 3,” the court added. Gateway 3 refers to whether a claim is being made against a “necessary or proper party,” which it deemed the UK company was not.
As the court has jurisdiction over the UK arm but not the US version, and that Apple UK wasn’t responsible for the US company’s actions, the court could not rightfully hear the case.
“In the Apple action, the application for permission to serve the proceedings on A1 out of the jurisdiction is refused,” the final judgement reads.
While the legal action between Epic and Apple ends in the UK, it’s not the same story for Google, another target of the same complaint. For some elements of Epic’s complaint, the court granted permission for Epic to continue its action against Google.