A judge has ordered Apple to allow third-party payment options for the App Store by December 9th, denying a stay
No stay granted by Judge Rogers in Epic v. Apple. Developers must be allowed to add links and buttons to external payment choices, she rules. New orders from the judge state that “Apple’s motion is based on a selective reading of this Court’s findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction.”
Judge Gonzalez Rogers handed down her decision following a hearing on antitrust violations held on Tuesday in connection with the massive lawsuit Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite, brought in 2020 and tried this year. At the hearing, Apple stated that it required more time to revise its anti-steering regulations, rules that prevent software developers from linking to payment methods other than those found in the App Store for iOS devices
“This will be the first time Apple has ever allowed live links in an app for digital content. It’s going to take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business, and other issues,” said Apple attorney Mark Perry. “It is exceedingly complicated. There have to be guardrails and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers, to protect Apple. And they have to be written into guidelines that can be explained and enforced and applied.”
Epic v. Apple Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple did not break antitrust law by removing Fortnite from the App Store and that Epic’s developer account did not need to be re-established. This appealed the part claiming that Apple’s anti-steering practises withheld crucial information from users and demanded that they be removed.
It was pointed out to Perry that Apple had already implemented one of the two changes required. During a class action settlement in August, it lifted a regulation that restricted developers’ ability to contact users via email. Despite this, Apple has characterised in-app connections as a distinct threat to user trust and safety, stating that they might allow developers to defraud customers or redirect them to hazardous websites. Changes to the platform are likely to have a negative impact on Apple if they are compelled to be implemented.” Consumers will be harmed by them. Developers will be negatively impacted. That is unquestionably the case. Perry added, “It’s going to happen.”
There is no meaningful commitment to change by Epic in their response to Apple’s request. According to Epic attorney Gary Bornstein: “Apple does nothing unless it is forced to do it,”
It was Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ opinion that Apple was requesting an indefinite stay of the injunction despite maintaining that it only wanted more time to analyse the dangers. “You haven’t asked for additional time. You’ve asked for an injunction which would effectively take years,” she informed him. “You asked for an across-the-board stay which could take 3, 4, 5 years.” Apple, Perry said, wanted to delay the changes until the issue was resolved, stating that it was certain “we’re going to win the appeal.” Perry.
In her order Tuesday evening, she accused Apple of wanting “an open-ended stay with no requirement that it make any effort to comply” and suggested “Apple has provided no credible reason for the Court to believe that the injunction would cause [the] professed devastation” in regards to Apple’s argument that it would be harmed by adding external links to alternate payment systems within apps.
To secure a stay from Judge Gonzalez Rogers, Apple plans on appealing to the Ninth Circuit. “Apple believes no additional business changes should be required to take effect until all appeals in this case are resolved. We intend to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay based on these circumstances,” writes an Apple spokesperson.