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Apple fires back in Epic Games 'Fortnite' saga, seeks damages for breach of contract

Credit: Apple

Apple filed counterclaims and responses on Tuesday in its legal battle with Epic Games, and is seeking damages for the "Fortnite" maker's alleged breach of contract.

The latest legal volley, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, continues an ongoing saga between the two companies that began in August. On Aug. 13, Epic Games baited Apple into removing "Fortnite" from the App Store and filed a prepared lawsuit shortly thereafter.

In its court filing Tuesday, Apple said that the Epic lawsuit is "nothing more than a basic disagreement over money." The Epic Games suit alleges anti-competitive behavior on the App Store and protests Apple's cut of in-app purchases.

"Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store," Apple wrote in the counterclaim.

Furthermore, Apple believes that it should be awarded compensatory and other damages as a result of the entire debacle.

"Epic fired the first shot in this dispute, and its willful, brazen, and unlawful conduct cannot be left unchecked. Neither Mr. Sweeney's self-righteous (and self-interested) demands nor the scale of Epic's business can justify Epic's deliberate contractual breaches, its tortious conduct, or its unfair business practices," Apple wrote. "This Court should hold Epic to its contractual promises, award Apple compensatory and punitive damages, and enjoin Epic from engaging in further unfair business practices."

Apple's dustup with Epic started when the game company implemented a direct payment system into "Fortnite" that bypassed the 30% commission on App Store and in-app purchases. Apple then pulled "Fortnite" from the App Store as it was directly violating the company's developer guidelines — a move that Epic was apparently anticipating.

Unbeknownst to Apple, Epic had been busy enlisting a legion of lawyers, publicists, and technicians to orchestrate a sneak assault on the App Store," Apple said of the implementation of the direct payment system.

The move appeared to be a strategic on Epic's part, as the company quickly launched an anti-Apple campaign along the lawsuit. Although Epic Games has denied wanting a special deal for "Fortnite," email correspondence between Apple and Epic Games executives suggest otherwise.

In the counterclaim, Apple adds that Epic Games has earned more than $600 million from the App Store. It also asks the court to hold Epic liable for breach of contract and other counts. It also seeks restitution of the revenue that "Fortnite" made through its direct payment system and a permanent injunction banning that payment system across all of Epic's apps on the App Store.