Valve refuses Apple’s “narrow” data request in battle VS Epic

In an ongoing legal battle VS Epic, Apple’s requested that non-party Valve deliver a series of data points. Apple’s suggestion is that the biggest competitor to Epic’s “Epic Games Store” is Valve’s game store Steam. Apple’s lawyers suggest that their “request is very narrow”, while Valve’s lawyers suggest “Apple wrongly claims those requests are narrow. They are not.”

Per the document released this week, Valve’s council suggests that they’ve produced documents on revenue share, competition with Epic, Steam distribution contracts, “and other documents.” Valve suggested that Apple demanded that they “(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.”

Valve suggested that Apple sent a list of 436 games that appear in both the Epic Games Store and Steam. They then went on, wrote Valve, to demand that “Valve identify, from 2015 to the present, every version and all digital content or items for each of these games on Steam, then (b) provide exhaustive information about all of them, including [the following]”.

The list of requests on games included:
• Sale dates, prices and price changes from 2015 to the present.
• Gross revenue for each game, version, and item, “broken down individually.”
• “All of Valve’s revenues related to these versions, content and items.”

Valve argued that Apple could get the same information from Samsung about Samsung’s app store with far less effort by Samsung because Samsung has this information on-hand. Because Samsung is a public company, wrote Valve, they keep “detailed financial and operational information.” Valve does not have this information easily and/or readily available, so they’ve suggested.

“Valve does not in the ordinary course of business keep the information Apple seeks for a simple reason: Valve doesn’t need it.” Valve also pointed to an earlier point in Apple’s battle with Epic in which Apple’s lawyers suggested that the market relevant to this case included “competing platforms on which Fortnite is distributed and monetized.” (Case No. 20-cv-05640-YGR) (Dkt. 118 at 16).

It’ll be interesting to see if Apple is able to compel the court to demand Valve provide the full scope of information outlined in documentation from the court this week. To see more information on this latest document filed this week, see Case 4:20-cv-05640-YGR Document 346 Filed 02/18/21 with the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, Oakland Division.

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Trump’s ‘key money’ request complicates Microsoft-TikTok deal

Microsoft confirmed on Sunday that it is interested in buying the American business of ByteDance’s popular TikTok social-networking service, pending a review by the Trump administration, with the intention of closing the deal by mid-September. President Trump, however, had his own demands.

Microsoft’s announcement caps off an eventful weekend that began Friday night with President Trump stating that he would ban TikTok, the Chinese short-form social video service. Rumors then began swirling that Microsoft was interested in aquiring the company, but that Trump’s opposition to the service might prevent the deal from occurring. A Sunday-night blog post from Microsoft confirms that the deal is, in fact, in the works.

According to Microsoft, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump spoke, with Trump apparently giving his approval for a potential acquisition to proceed. “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” Microsoft said. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

Trump, however, on Monday threw an unexpected wrench into the deal, claiming that Microsoft would be forced to pay a finder’s fee of sorts to the government.

“I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is… I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump said. “Right now they don’t have any rights, unless we give it to them. SO if we’re going to give them the rights, then it has to come into this country.

Trump compared the arrangement to a landlord-tenant arrangement. “Without a lease, the tenant has nothing. So they pay what’s called ‘key money’ or they pay something.”

TikTok deal set to close by September

Microsoft said Sunday that it hoped to complete the deal by Sept. 15, 2020, pending discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. Microsoft would in fact buy TikTok’s operations in several English-speaking countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets. 

According to reports, the Trump administration was concerned that data collected by TikTok was being transferred to the Chinese government. (ByteDance has denied these allegations.) Microsoft said that all data collected by the TikTok operations it would acquire would remain within the United States, and any data that was stored or backed up outside the United States will be transferred to its servers within the United States. The data residing on those servers outside the U.S. would then be deleted, it said.

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