Apple points the finger at Microsoft as its legal battle with Epic Games continues

Laurent Giret

Apple’s ongoing legal fight with Epic Games is taking an interesting turn after the company made some serious accusations about Microsoft. A report from Bloomberg reveals that the Cupertino giant asked a judge in a new filing on Wednesday to discard the testimony of Xbox Lori Wright, a third-party witness who previously answered questions from Epic’s lawyers about Microsoft’s Xbox business model.

As you may know, Apple’s legal battle with Epic Games is all about the 30% cut Apple takes on in-app purchases on its iOS App Store, and the other restrictive policies that led Epic to remove Fornite from the App Store and Microsoft to find an alternative way to launch Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS devices.

If both Epic Games and Microsoft have been having issues with Apple’s App Store, the latter is now wondering if Microsoft isn’t satisfied to see Epic Games engage in a legal battle it could eventually benefit from. “A reasonable observer might wonder whether Epic is serving as a stalking horse for Microsoft,” Apple said in the new filing on Wednesday. “Microsoft shielded itself from meaningful discovery in this litigation by not appearing as a party or sending a corporate representative to testify.”

Apple also claimed in its Wednesday filing that five of Epic Games’ witnesses at the ongoing trial are associated with Microsoft. The list includes Susan Athey from Stanford University, who declined to view confidential documents brought by Apple due to her past consulting work for Microsoft.

Additionally, Apple complained in the filing that Microsoft failed to disclose internal communications and that it had talks with Epic about the latter’s strategy to avoid paying Apple’s App Store tax. “Such internal communications are particularly relevant in light of Microsoft’s relationship with at least five Epic witnesses and the potential that Microsoft is using Epic as a proxy plaintiff in litigation that it refuses to prosecute in its own name,” Apple wrote.

Microsoft brushed off Apple’s accusation in a statement yesterday. “Apple is trying to distract from legitimate concerns from many companies across the industry about its App Store policies and practices, including its refusal to allow game streaming in the Apple App Store. Epic speaks and acts for itself, and Microsoft and many other companies have raised concerns through our own voices, including directly with Apple itself.”

As the much-talked-about trial is coming to a close, Apple CEO Tim Cook is testifying today and it will be interesting to see if Microsoft will once again be part of the conversation. You can listen to his testimony live on Twitch.