Apple is Trying To Drag Valve Into its Ongoing Legal Battle with Epic Games, and Valve Wants Nothing To Do With It
A new court filing has revealed that, as part of the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, Apple subpoenaed Valve Software in November 2020, demanding it provide huge amounts of commercial data about Steam sales and operations going over multiple years. From a report: Apple subpoenaed Valve under the basic argument that certain Steam information would be crucial to building its case against Epic, which is all about competitive practices. Yesterday a joint discovery letter was filed to the District court in Northern California relating to the subpoena, which contains a summary of the behind-the-scenes tussles thus far, and both sides’ arguments about where to go from here.

[…] Apple wants Valve to provide the names, prices, configurations and dates of every product on Steam, as well as detailed accounts of exactly how much money Steam makes and how it is all divvied-up. Apple argues that this information is necessary for its case against Epic, is not available elsewhere, and “does not raise risk of any competitive harm.” Needless to say, Valve does not agree. Its counter-argument to the above says that Valve has co-operated to what it believes to be a reasonable extent — “Valve already produced documents regarding its revenue share, competition with Epic, Steam distribution contracts, and other documents” — before going on to outline the nature of Apple’s requests: “that Valve (i) recreate six years’ worth of PC game and item sales for hundreds of third party video games, then (ii) produce a massive amount of confidential information about these games and Valve’s revenues.” In a masterpiece of understatement, Valve’s legal counsel writes: “Apple wrongly claims those requests are narrow. They are not.” Apple apparently demanded data on 30,000+ games initially, before narrowing its focus to around 600. Request 32 gets incredibly granular, Valve explains: Apple is demanding information about every version of a given product, all digital content and items, sale dates and every price change from 2015 to the present day, the gross revenues for each version, broken down individually, and all of Valve’s revenues from it.

Valve says it does not “in the ordinary course of business keep the information Apple seeks for a simple reason: Valve doesn’t need it.” Valve’s argument goes on to explain to the court that it is not a competitor in the mobile space (this is, after all, a dispute that began with Fortnite on iOS), and makes the point that “Valve is not Epic, and Fortnite is not available on Steam.” It further says that Apple is using Valve as a shortcut to a huge amount of third party data that rightfully belongs to those third parties. The conclusion of Valve’s argument calls for the court to throw Apple’s subpoena out. “Somehow, in a dispute over mobile apps, a maker of PC games that does not compete in the mobile market or sell ‘apps’ is being portrayed as a key figure. It’s not. The extensive and highly confidential information Apple demands about a subset of the PC games available on Steam does not show the size or parameters of the relevant market and would be massively burdensome to pull together. Apple’s demands for further production should be rejected.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Author Of this post: msmash

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