Apple accuses Fortnite maker of two-year campaign to portray it as evil – live updates

Apple has accused Epic Games, the company behind the popular video game Fortnite, of running a two-year campaign to portray it as the “bad guy”.

In a new legal filing published this morning for its countersuit against Epic Games, Apple claims Epic began a secret effort known internally as “Project Liberty” in 2019 which was designed to damage Apple’s reputation over its 30pc cut of app payments.

Epic is also suing Apple for pulling Fortnite from its App Store after Epic added a way for players to buy virtual currency without handing a cut of payments to Apple.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has been hit with a £270m High Court legal claim from a British business today. Derby business ValueLicensing, a software licence reseller, alleges that Microsoft has abused its dominance over the software world to keep prices of services like Office365 artificially high.

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Nikola loses key executive heading fuel-cell development 

Nikola, the troubled hydrogen-powered and battery-electric truck startup, lost a key member of its executive team with the departure of the former head of its fuel-cell development program.

The company said Jesse Schneider, executive vice president of technology, hydrogen and fuel cells, left his position on April 1. He had led its engineering teams working on fuel-cell systems, a planned hydrogen-fueling station network and storage technology.

Nikola’s first hydrogen-powered truck is due to go into production starting in 2023


“Jesse Schneider recently departed Nikola on good terms, we understand to pursue a business opportunity in the hydrogen industry,” Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “Jesse’s contribution over the last three years included helping Nikola build world-class fuel cell and hydrogen teams.”

Shares of Nikola fell 7opc to close at $12.29 in New York trading — the lowest since it went public in a reverse merger last year with a blank-check company. The stock is down more than 80pc from its June high.


Apple’s App Store fees explained

 Apple’s App Store fees have caused controversy – and not just with Epic Games.

Other companies have also protested against Apple’s cut. Tinder and Netflix have stopped offering subscriptions through the App Store, while Spotify, which competes with Apple’s music service, has lobbied regulators to launch monopoly investigations.

In August, Facebook accused Apple of placing a huge burden on small businesses that are trying to bring more of their services online during lockdown. 

In response, Apple agreed to offer a three-month respite of fees for businesses that have been forced to move to online-only events. Here’s everything you need to know about how the fees work:


Prosus earns $14.6bn from Tencent share sale 

Prosus, the Dutch-listed technology spin-off from Naspers, has confirmed that it has sold part of its stake in Chinese technology giant Tencent.

A Prosus spokesman confirmed that the company sold a 2pc stake in Tencent which earned the business $14.6bn (£10.6bn)

“Prosus intends to use the proceeds of the sale to increase its financial flexibility to invest in growth, plus for general corporate purposes,” the company said yesterday. It has agreed not to sell any further Tencent shares for three years.

Prosus remains Tencent’s largest shareholder with a 29pc stake after the sale.


Apple reveals Epic Games’ two-year anti-Apple campaign 


Apple has accused Epic Games of mounting a carefully planned public relations campaign in a bid to set up its own payment system and app store on the iOS platform. 

It claims the Fortnite-maker hired PR companies two years ago to develop a strategy called “Project Library” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.” 

“Epic carefully prepared to launch a media campaign against Apple,” the document alleges. “The battle begins. It’s going to be fun,” an email from an Epic Games employee quoted in the document reads.

It comes after Epic sued Apple last year in a federal court in California, alleging that the so-called 15 to 30pc “app tax” Apple charges developers on its App Store gives it gives it control over which apps can be installed on its devices.

 The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement its own in-app payment system in the popular “Fortnite” game and Apple subsequently banned the game from its App Store.

Apple  presented a California federal judge this morning with a road map of how it will push back against Epic in a high-stakes antitrust fight over how much the App Store charges developers.

The filing comes ahead of a May 3 trial before the judge with no jury.

In a summary of its legal arguments, Apple contends the commission it charges developers isn’t anti-competitive as it’s a standard fee charged by online and mobile app platforms.

Epic wants no restrictions on apps, whether on technology or content, accessed through the App Store, Apple said in its filing. But Epic overlooks the benefits of Apple’s app review process such as controlling malware attacks on the iOS platform that have helped developers and consumers, Apple said.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney are among company executives that will testify at trial. Both companies have also engaged a small army of economists to lay out their positions to the judge.

For Apple, this countersuit is about defending its position as a fair provider of apps. Epic Games, however, claims it’s abusing that position to bully developers into handing it cash. 


Microsoft faces £270m High Court claim in the UK 

Microsoft has dramatically changed its image since its famed US antitrust case in 2001, with the company now taking great pains to publicly support governments[12].

So today’s filing of a £270m antitrust legal claim against the business in the UK is a rarity for modern Microsoft. What’s more unusual is this lawsuit comes from a British business.

ValueLicensing is alleging hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues because it claims Microsoft dominates the software world and prevents businesses from reselling software they bought.

Jonathan Horley, the chief executive of the business, claims that “Microsoft’s illegal behaviour has impacted almost every organisation that provides desktop software for its workforce in the UK and the EEA.”

So far, Microsoft has declined to comment on the case, with a spokesman instead saying that the business is “unable to comment on ongoing legal cases.”


Five things to start your day

1) Bitcoin is a ‘Chinese financial weapon’ that threatens the dollar, says tech billionaire Peter Thiel[14] The Silicon Valley mega-investor suggested Bitcoin should be treated as a ‘Chinese financial weapon’ and subject to stricter US scrutiny

2) Uber to spend $250m to coax drivers back onto the road[15] Company is seeing shortage of supply in the US as passengers seek to get back in cars

3) ‘Deliveroo’s algorithm makes looking after my family feel impossible’[16] Deliveroo drivers reveal the human cost of Will Shu’s ambition to become Britain’s food delivery king

4) Robin Pagnamenta: Britain’s new tech watchdog is a toothless tiger[17] There is fat chance of the Digital Markets Unit curbing the dominance of the tech giants until it has some actual regulations to enforce

5) Professor Sarah Gilbert to net £15m after Oxford vaccine start-up makes US debut[18] Oxford University spin-out Vaccitech was involved in the early development of the Covid-19 vaccine

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