US judge: Apple must allow external links for payments in apps

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US judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers concluded during the lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games that Apple should not ban redirects to external payments of apps. This is a permanent statement about Apple’s overall App Store policy.

Developers should have the option to let customers pay for subscriptions and other in-app purchases outside the App Store ecosystem, court documents show. The so-called permanent injunction affects all of Apple’s policies within the App Store, not just Epic Games’ demands. “[Apple] may hereby permanently stop developers from using buttons, external links and other calls to direct customers to other purchasing methods.” The ruling will take effect in 90 days. Earlier this month, a Japanese market watchdog ordered Apple to do the same, that Apple agreed to.

Nevertheless, Epic Games must pay the 30 percent App Store commission over the period the company offered unauthorized Fortnite purchases outside of Apple’s platform. Between August and October, Epic earned more than 10 million euros. Earnings after this period up to today’s ruling are also subject to the original 30 percent commission. The court acknowledges that Epic was still in violation of Apple’s terms at the time.

Epic Games started the lawsuit in question because of Apple’s possible monopolistic policy in the virtual app store. Gonzalez-Rogers does not see such claims as proven. “The court cannot definitively conclude that Apple is a monopolist. While the court recognizes that Apple (…) has exceptionally high profit margins, this is not proof of the alleged monopolism. Success is not illegal.” She went on to say, “Nevertheless, this lawsuit has shown that Apple engaged in anti-competitive practices, prohibited by California laws.” The aforementioned permanent injunction is intended to remove further competition barriers by Apple.

With the conclusion of the lawsuit, a long legal battle between Epic Games and Apple may come to an end. While App Store policies are permanently changing based on the rulings within the lawsuit, all of Epic’s other charges were found to be unsubstantiated. What this means for Fortnite within Apple’s ecosystem is not clear. Earlier today it turned out that Epic Games wants to see the popular battle royale game back in the App Store in South Korea. The court acknowledges that Apple is free to determine whether or not to include Fortnite in the App Store; In any case, Epic Games will have to continue to adhere to the renewed condition. The full ruling in the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple is available here.

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