On Friday, the judge in Northern California heard the closely monitored Epic games against Apple lawsuit led to a ruling that works in many ways in Apple’s favor, but with one major exception that changes the App Store.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling includes a permanent one-page injunction requiring Apple to open payment options to all software vendors on the App Store. In other words, Epic Games’ effort to add Epic-specific payment links to the free-to-play game Fortniteand so escaping paying Apple’s 30 percent fee for in-app transactions can now happen.
The ban is aimed at Apple, not Epic, telling the device and software manufacturer to no longer prohibit developers from including their own direct-buy links in their apps. Apple also cannot prevent app makers from communicating with customers through a method that customers choose (ie, an email newsletter) about purchase options. Apple has 90 days from today, September 10, 2021, until this order becomes effective and enforceable.
No Antitrust Violation
The gargantuan 185-page ruling begins by making it clear that one of the lawsuit’s bigger allegations, that Apple engaged in antitrust conduct, isn’t quite right. Apple pointed out this detail in his own statement on the statement:
Today the court confirmed what we always knew: the App Store does not violate the antitrust law. As the court acknowledged, “success is not illegal.” Apple faces stiff competition in every segment we do business in, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring that the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million jobs in the US, and where the rules apply equally to everyone.
While Epic Games’ general stance on payment options in the App Store has passed, leading to the ban, Epic itself faces ramifications from the courts. not find that Apple has committed a breach of contract. Specifically, Epic must pay damages to Apple over the 30 percent cut in its Fortnite in-app purchases that would have been paid to Apple by Epic in the first place had Fortnite has not introduced its own payment model for three months in 2020. That amount alone is $3.65 million, and the ruling also lists other damages.
In addition, because Apple’s decision to shut down Epic Games’ developer account within the Apple ecosystem was “valid, lawful and enforceable” according to the ruling, Apple may proceed with not allow Epic Games to return to the App Store as a licensed and approved developer.