A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Apple could not delay changing its App Store, a move that could soon allow app developers to communicate directly with customers about ways to pay for services outside of it. Apple ecosystem.
Calling Apple’s request for a deadline “fundamentally flawed,” Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California warned in her ruling that the company’s strict app store rules ‘directed towards’ antitrust conduct’.
The judge wrote that she wouldn’t let Apple make changes to the App Store, where many developers aren’t allowed to direct customers elsewhere. She wrote that Apple was enforcing the rule “to hurt competition” while collecting fees on sales from developers.
Apple tried to blunt Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ verdict in September in a year-long lawsuit filed by Epic Games, the creator of the Fortnite video game. Now, Apple may have to rewrite its policies to allow app developers to direct users to alternative payment methods as early as December.
In its initial lawsuit, Epic wanted Apple to be labeled a monopolist. Epic argued that the strict App Store rules and fees Apple charges developers who distribute apps in the store hurt customers and developers and weaken competition.
After a trial that ended in May, Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on most of the charges in September. But she said the company was violating California anti-competitive law by preventing app developers from communicating directly with customers about ways to pay for services outside of the App Store. This would allow developers to avoid paying Apple’s standard fees of up to 30% of their sales.
The judge banned these so-called anti-leadership rules from December. In October, Apple appealed the verdict and requested a stay of its injunction until the appeal process was completed.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers dismissed Apple’s claim after a hearing on Tuesday. From the start of the hearing, which was held by videoconference, she appeared skeptical of Apple’s request.
When Mark Perry, an Apple attorney, argued that allowing developers to include links to external websites in their apps would take months to figure out, the judge interrupted him to point out that the company had not just ask for a short time to work. logistic.
âYou haven’t asked for a few months,â she said. âYou didn’t ask for six months. You did not ask for a limited time. You asked for a general stay, which could take three, four, five years.
His written decision clouded Apple’s arguments that it would be difficult, time consuming and potentially dangerous to allow app developers to link to their own websites.
âOther than, perhaps, the need for time to establish guidelines, Apple provided no credible reason for the court to believe that the injunction would cause the declared devastation,â Judge Gonzalez Rogers wrote. âUsers can open browsers and retype links in the same direction; it’s just annoying, which then only works for Apple’s benefit.
Tuesday’s decision is not the last word. Apple has said it will seek the overturn of the judge’s decision with a federal appeals court.
“Apple believes that no further business changes should be necessary to take effect until all appeals in this matter are resolved,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.
The details of what Apple would have to change if an injunction was upheld are unclear. Some have speculated that developers could offer their own competing payment methods within the App Store, but Apple disagrees with these interpretations of the judge’s ruling.