California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a legal brief in federal appeals court late Thursday arguing for fair competition under state law in Epic Games Inc.’s landmark antitrust lawsuit against Apple Inc.
The 36-page brief does not take a side in the dispute, but does say that if the federal appeals court “is uncertain about whether the district court correctly applied” the California law, it should certify the case to the California Supreme Court. California’s Unfair Competition Law, or UCL, imposes “broad” and “sweeping” prohibitions against unfair, unlawful or fraudulent business acts or practices.
“California’s Unfair Competition Law has protected countless Californians from unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices,” Bonta said in a statement. “It is essential that the Ninth Circuit, no matter the outcome of this particular dispute, interprets the law correctly.”
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“Apple’s cross-appeal raises issues related to the proper application of the UCL,” according to the filing. “The district court found that Apple’s anti-steering provisions violated the UCL, while at the same time concluding that Epic had not
established that Apple’s conduct violated the federal Sherman Act or
California’s Cartwright Act.”
“This brief does not support either party or take a position on whether the judgment below should be affirmed or reversed,” the filing added.
App Store anti-steering rules bar app developers from linking to payment methods besides the iOS App Store, which would allow them to elude Apple’s commission rates of 15% to 30%. Apple contends it will be irreparably harmed if it is forced to allow developers to steer their customers to other payment systems.
Apple, which has filed two briefs the past week in the case, declined to comment on Bonta’s brief Thursday.