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Apple's bitter legal battle with Epic Games over the spread of Fortnite on iOS has now managed to turn Valve on. Apple has subpoenaed Steam Maker over a variety of PC game sales dates that it says is critical to its case. But Valve resists this subpoena, saying that its information is copyrighted, not relevant to Apple's case, and would be expensive and difficult to generate.
As discussed in a joint letter from Apple and Valve filed this week in the Northern District Court of California, Apple's November subpoena looks for two broad categories of information that Valve is not providing:
- Documents sufficient to demonstrate: (a) total annual revenue from apps and in-app products; (b) Steam's annual advertising revenue; (c) Annual turnover from external products attributable to Steam; (d) annual income from Steam; and (e) annual income (whether gross or net) of Steam; as well as
- (a) the name of each app on Steam; (b) the length of time the app was available on Steam; and (c) the price of the app and any in-app products available on Steam.
While Valve has responded to some other parts of Apple's subpoena, Apple says information "has been so extensively edited that Apple cannot see what information it might contain".
Why do you need this?
The information requested is key, according to Apple, in setting up other platforms that are "potentially an economic substitute" for the iOS App Store when it comes to distributing Fortnite, as explained in previous decisions on this case. Valve's information is "critical to calculating the overall size of the marketplace for Epic's available digital sales channels," Apple said.
But Valve argues that Steam is an unrelated sideline in the battle between Apple and Epic. "Valve doesn't manufacture, sell, or otherwise compete in the mobile market for phones, tablets, or video games," the company writes. "Fortnite is not available on Steam, and Epic has publicly and clearly stated that Fortnite will only be offered on Steam if Valve changes its business model."
While Apple says that Valve "admits that the information requested is in an unknown, easily accessible format," Valve compliance would be "an overwhelming workload" and "an extraordinary burden on Valve to query, process, and combine tremendous amount (information) to create the documents Apple is looking for. "
According to Valve, the process would involve collecting information from at least four separate databases for thousands of separate items. Also, according to Valve, Apple has not offered to cover the cost of this data collection process.
Protection of private data
Apple cites a previous court order for similar sales information from Samsung, in which it argues that the court should force Valve to comply. However, Valve argues that "Apple, Google and Samsung are all competing in the mobile app market. Valve does not compete in that market."
Valve also argues that the fact that it is a private company makes an important difference to the public Samsung. "Valve has chosen to remain partially private in order to avoid the burden of disclosure and reporting requirements for public companies to which companies such as Samsung or Google are subject," the company writes. "Valve does not disclose its revenue and earnings information and forecasts, and Valve gains significant value and benefit from keeping such information confidential, including by keeping it out of the hands of companies like Epic, which also sell PC games."
Valve's argument wins in light of the company's 2018 decision to effectively prevent services like Steam Spy or Ars & # 39; s own Steam Gauge from providing public estimates of Steam game sales based on samples of individual public user account details create. Valve said in July 2018 that it was working on a "more accurate" replacement for this Steam Spy data, but has only released sporadic and incomplete summaries of the Steam market in recent years.
In any case, Apple argues that confidential or sensitive competitive information provided by Valve could be covered by a protective order such as that applied to Samsung. Apple also argues that "the information requested in this request does not include detailed plans for future plans or strategic assessments … there is no material risk of competitive or economic harm (to Valve)."
However, Valve continues to firmly believe the information is private and not required for Apple's current litigation. "Somehow, in a mobile app dispute, a PC game maker who doesn't compete in the mobile market or sell 'apps' is portrayed as a key player," writes Valve. "It is not."