Editor’s note: The Skinny blog is written by WRAL TechWire co-founder and editor Rick Smith.

CARY – In the high-stakes antitrust trial between Epic Games and Apple (with a Google fight looming), Epic concedes that it was clearly prohibited by contract to provide a payment workaround for app store purchases that it is calling a “tax” but also says the bypass was not “unlawful.”

However as the formerly very close business partners continue to howl and complain like a couple in a nasty divorce, neither wants the dispute to get an airing in a trial by jury as has been suggested by the federal judge handling the case.

Rick Smith is editor and cofounder of WRAL TechWire

Get this latrest reasoning from Epic in a filing made earlier this week about the legal firestorm that ignited like a California wildfire in August:

“On August 13, 2020, Epic provided Fortnite users on iOS with the choice of an alternative payment processing solution called Epic Direct Pay, which offered consumers lower prices and better customer service than Apple’s payment processor, IAP.

“Epic does not dispute that this competing payment solution was prohibited by contractual provisions that Apple has unlawfully forced on developers like Epic who sell in-app digital content, even though Apple allows numerous other app developers to use competing solutions. Epic also does not dispute that, if Apple’s contracts were lawful, all in-app purchases made by Fortnite users on iOS would be subject to Apple’s 30% tax, even though Apple has exempted numerous other developers from this tax. But Epic denies that its refusal to abide by Apple’s anti-competitive scheme was in any way wrongful.”

(Emphasis added.)

However, Epic and Apple found enough common ground to make a joint plea to federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers about a jury trial. Apple had in fact sought one.

Reports Bloomberg: “[T]hey don’t want the case tried before a jury and that they prefer the judge to decide it herself.”

In its own filing, Epic said the privatly held company “looks forward to proving at trial that the agreements on which Apple bases its counterclaims are illegal and unenforceable. Apple has asserted repeatedly that ‘Epic’s lawsuit is nothing more than a basic disagreement over money’. This is not correct.

Two advocates for free enterprise say Apple vs. Epic could lead to government intervention

“Epic has not sought and will not seek money damages from Apple. Instead, Apple is now the party that has sued seeking payment from Epic on multiple different theories. Indeed, Apple’s counterclaims do more than merely seek to force Epic to pay Apple’s supra-competitive 30% tax on in-app purchases. Apple’s broad counterclaims are designed to punish Epic for its defiance and send a message to other developers who might dare rebel against Apple.”

As we have reported at TechWire, Google has reiterated it requires a 30% fee as well, something that has not been widely enforced. Now it will be, Google declared earlier this week.

And Epic CEO, Tim Sweeney, has warned that Apple’s actions are putting the company’s future at risk.

The bad blood is cited again in the new filing in which Epic says Apple “hyperbolically describes Epic as a thief” and Apple “seeks ‘punitive damages’ to punish Epic and further deter other app developers who might stand up to Apple’s oppressive and illegal conduct.”

Epic says it will seek a quick resolution of the case.

Do you really think that will happen?

You can read the latest filing in its entirety at this link.

Epic Games vs. Apple: Why this big lawsuit is important to all emerging companies – and us

Epic Games vs Apple Inc.: Why Apple may win this legal skirmish but lose the war