Business News Digital Legal
By Chris Cooke | Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Fortnite maker Epic Games has hit back at Apple’s attempt to postpone an injunction issued by a U.S. court that would require the tech giant to allow any business with an iOS app to sign alternative payment options.
Apple wants the injunction to be stayed while it appeals the ruling in its broader legal battle with Epic, but says it could introduce voluntary changes to address the court’s concerns in the short term. Epic retorts that this call could take years and that Apple cannot be trusted to do the right thing on its own.
Epic, like Spotify, has an assortment of gripes about Apple’s App Store rules. Notably, the fact that in-app payments can only be made using Apple’s commission-based transactions platform, and app makers can’t report other payment options elsewhere on the internet.
However, while the music streaming company has mainly gone the regulatory route in an effort to force Apple to change its rules, the games company has gone the litigation route and in several countries. However, his legal battle with Apple in California has by far received the most attention so far.
Epic and Spotify argue that Apple’s App Store rules constitute anti-competitive behavior. But in the California court battle, the judge mostly sided with Apple and rejected many of the competition law arguments presented by Epic.
However, one aspect of Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling was in favor of the Fortnite firm, and that was the injunction forcing Apple to allow all app makers to flag alternative payment options in their apps that exist elsewhere on the net.
Apple had in fact already made some concessions in this area before Gonzalez Rogers’ decision. In order to settle a regulatory investigation in Japan, Apple announced in early September that so-called reader apps will be able to sign alternative payment options starting next year.
These are apps that provide access to digital content such as books, podcasts, music, and videos that have already been purchased or accessed through a subscription. So this concession helps Spotify, but it doesn’t help Epic. Therefore, for the games team, the injunction was a huge victory, even though the real end goal for Spotify and Epic is to be able to use their own transaction systems within their apps.
The injunction is due to go into effect on December 9, but Apple and Epic now appealing the broader decision, the former asked Gonzalez Rogers to stay the injunction pending the appeal. Needless to say, Epic isn’t impressed with this proposal.
In a new legal brief, Epic says Apple downplayed the importance of the injunction when it was issued last month but, in its motion to stay the decision, “Apple now claims that the court injunction would cause him irreparable harm “.
Epic also notes how “Apple suggests that, during the requested stay, it may voluntarily take unspecified action, in Apple’s preferred manner and according to Apple’s preferred schedule, to (at least in part) resolve the old problem. ten years identified by the court “.
âBut,â he continues, âthe stay requested by Apple, until ‘the appeals filed by both Epic and Apple have been resolved’, could easily last for many years. There is no reason to expect Apple to end its long-standing disloyal behavior, the legality of which it continues to vigorously defend. As the court found, “nothing but legal action is seems to motivate Apple “to reconsider its prices or other restrictions on the App Store“.
With that in mind, Epic argues that “a suspension would simply get Apple out of the woods and perpetuate the harm to consumers and developers, for a substantial period of time.”
It remains to be seen how Gonzalez Rogers reacts and whether a broader change to Apple’s signaling rule goes into effect next month as his court ordered, at least in the United States.