Epic ratchets up UK antitrust pressure on Apple with new App Store complaint

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Epic Games has renewed its attempt to apply pressure on Apple in the UK, with a new complaint to a competition regulator that supports an ongoing investigation into the App Store.

On March 4, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into Apple, after receiving a number of complaints about the App Store. In an announcement by Epic Games on Tuesday, it was stoking the fire of the investigation, by filing a complaint against Apple.

The CMA investigation is set to determine whether Apple restricts competition and sets "unfair terms" for developers. This includes accusations Apple's market position allowed it to set terms that are "unfair or may restrict competition and choice."

In the new announcement, Epic says it is supporting the CMA investigation into Apple's alleged anticompetitive behavior. Apple's control over the distribution of apps and payment mechanisms "constitute a clear violation of the UK Competition Act of 1998," Epic asserts.

The complaint is also said to illustrate Apple's "monopolistic practices," namely preventing the existence of third-party app marketplaces on Apple platforms, and forcing the use of Apple's own payment mechanism.

"By kneecapping the competition and exerting its monopoly power over app distribution and payments, Apple strips UK consumers of the right to choose how and where they get their apps, while locking developers into a single marketplace that lets Apple charge any commission rate they choose," said Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney. "These harmful practices lead to artificially inflated costs for consumers, and stifle innovation among developers, many of whom are unable to compete in a digital ecosystem that is rigged against them."

Epic has beenincreasing pressure on Apple in a bid to force it into allowing third-party app stores, the use of alternative payment mechanisms, and other elements that the game developer wants changed. It has done so with a variety of lawsuits, official complaints, and its "Free Fortnite" marketing campaign, in a number of countries around the world.

The complaint seems to be a second attempt by Epic to exert that pressure on Apple in the UK, following an earlier complaint with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal that failed to take off. While the January complaint followed similar arguments, the tribunal ruled in February that it wasn't able to hear the case at all, due to it being outside its jurisdiction.

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