By Jon Swartz
Apple Inc. is blunting competition through its mobile app store, attorneys general for 34 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Justice Department, Microsoft Corp. and antitrust experts said in multiple court filings to a California appeals court late Thursday.
The filings sided with Epic Games Inc., maker of the popular Fortnite game, that is appealing a ruling in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +2.61% that allows the iPhone maker to continue some restrictive policies.
“Apple’s conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app-developers and millions of citizens,” the states said. “Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifles competition, and amass supra-competitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry.”
The Justice Department said in its submission that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers “committed several legal errors that could imperil effective antitrust enforcement, especially in the digital economy.”
Rogers last year ruled that the 15% to 30% commission Apple charges some app makers through its in-app payment system did not violate antitrust law.
In all, Epic filed 10 briefs signed by the Department of Justice, 35 state attorneys, Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +2.58% , Match Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207178501/composite MTCH -2.48% , Electronic Frontier Foundation, and more than 50 antitrust experts in the U.S.
Apple, which is expected to reply in March, told MarketWatch it was “optimistic” Epic’s challenge would fail, and it remained “committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace for consumers and a great opportunity for developers.”