What you need to know
- Apple has suffered a major blow in its case against Epic Games in Australia.
- A federal court has granted an appeal by Epic Games against a decision that said the case couldn't proceed in the country.
- It means Epic is now free to press on with its court case, but Apple plans to appeal.
An Australian federal judge has ruled that Epic Games does in fact have the right to pursue Apple in Australia after a court previously ruled it did not.
In a Federal Court Order published Friday, a judge ordered that a decision made back in April against Epic Games be overturned. A court had previously ruled that Epic Games couldn't go ahead with its case in Australia because of a contractual clause between Apple and Epic which states that all disputes should be settled in California, as the ruling explains:
Epic has a contractual agreement with Apple to litigate in the Northern District of California which gives rise to the issues in this appeal.
In April the Judge in the case ordered that the proceedings brought against Apple in Australia be paused for three months, and then thrown out if Epic hadn't started a suit in the Northern District of California in the meantime. The judge believed that the exclusive jurisdiction clause covered the dispute and that Apple including this didn't constitute "unconscionable conduct".
In a decision reversing that order the Federal court stated:
For the reasons that follow, we have determined that the primary judge erred in granting a stay in circumstances where there were strong reasons not to do so, including because (as contemplated in Akai at 445) enforcement of the exclusive jurisdiction clause would offend the public policy of the forum. We would dismiss Apple's notice of contention.
The ruling means Epic Games is free to pursue Apple in another legal battle in Australia whilst it waits for the ruling of the more important trial in the U.S. which concluded earlier this year.
"Epic Games is pleased that our case will proceed with the Federal Court and be examined in the context of Australian laws," the company said in a statement given to iMore. "This is a positive step forward for Australian consumers and developers who are entitled to fair access and competitive pricing across mobile app stores. We look forward to continuing our fight for increased competition in app distribution and payment processing in Australia and around the world."
In a statement given to iMore, Apple said "the initial decision in April from Australia's Federal Court correctly ruled that Epic should be held to the agreement it made to resolve disputes in California. We respectfully disagree with the ruling made today and plan to appeal."