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Apple vs. Epic judge rules Apple must allow developers to direct users to other payment systems

Updated Sep 10th, 2021 5:14PM EDT
Apple Epic
Image: Epic Games

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The court dealt a major blow to Apple in its ongoing battle against Epic Games this week. US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a permanent injunction against Apple on Friday, prohibiting the company from forcing developers to use its in-app payment system. Going forward, developers will be allowed to direct users to third-party payment platforms and contact users outside of the app with the information obtained through account registration. The order takes effect on December 9th.

Apple v. Epic Games is making headlines again

This is a win for app developers, but Epic isn’t exactly in the clear. The judge affirmed that Epic Games breached its contract with Apple by building an alternative payment system in Fortnite. Epic Games will be made to pay Apple 30% of the revenue collected from Fortnite players on iOS through its Epic direct payment system. Between August and September of 2020, Epic made over $12 million on iOS through its payment portal. Therefore, Epic will pay Apple at least $3.6 million.

Furthermore, the court won’t require Apple to allow Fortnite back on the App Store.

In her conclusion, Judge Gonzalez Rogers said Epic Games had “overreached” in its lawsuit. Therefore, “the trial record was not as fulsome with respect to antitrust conduct in the relevant market as it could have been.” The judge says that while Apple isn’t a monopoly, its conduct is anticompetitive.

Apple responds to the permanent injunction

Apple shared the following statement in response to the Friday court order. Despite being accused of engaging in anticompetitive conduct, Apple sounds pleased with the result:

Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was not satisfied with the court’s decision.

“Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers,” Sweeney said on Twitter. “Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”

Sweeney claims that Fortnite won’t return to the App Store until Epic Games can offer its own in-app payments. Epic doesn’t want to pay Apple its 30% fee every time a player spends money from its apps. Unfortunately for Epic, this ruling doesn’t stop Apple from taking a cut of every IAP. Sweeney sees this as a compromise that too heavily favors Apple. Meanwhile, Epic Games and Google are in the midst of a nearly identical battle. This ruling could well affect the outcome of that lawsuit.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.