In September, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple must allow iOS developers to direct users to external content purchasing mechanisms outside of in-app purchases from the App Store. On Tuesday night, Rogers rejected Apple’s request to stay that ruling, setting the stage for it to take effect on December 9 pending a new appeal.
On a strong sentence of four pages, Judge Rogers said Apple’s motion for a stay, filed last month, is “fundamentally flawed” and “is based on a selective reading of this Court’s findings and ignores all of the findings that supported the court order, to namely incipient antitrust behavior, including super-competitive commission rates that result in extraordinarily high operating margins that have not been correlated with the value of your intellectual property. ”
Apple’s anti-direction provisions, which prevent app makers from informing users about alternative payment methods within apps, “are one of the key provisions on which Apple has been able to charge supra-competitive commissions without ties to its ownership. intellectual, “said Judge Rogers. writes. Those provisions lower royalty rates for Epic’s Unreal Engine specifically and “in the industry in general,” it continues.
Judge Rogers also dismissed as “exaggerated” Apple’s argument that allowing links and “metabuttons” for alternative payments would result in “irreparable harm … in the form of loss of trust and integrity in the iOS ecosystem.” Rogers cites other exceptions such as the reader’s rule and cross-play show that “alternatives can be accommodated outside of the application.”
“The Court can envision numerous avenues for Apple to comply with the court order and yet take steps to protect users, to the extent that Apple genuinely believes that external links would create problems,” the ruling continues. “Consumers are quite used to linking from an application to a web browser. Other than perhaps needing time to establish the Guidelines, Apple has provided no credible reason for the Court to believe that the court order would cause the declared devastation.”
Rogers also rejected arguments that the ruling would require technical and policy changes that were “excessively complicated” and that it would “take [Apple] months to resolve engineering, financial, business, and other issues, “as Apple attorney Mark Perry put it in his oral arguments. Instead of requesting that additional compliance time in his motion, however, Judge Rogers notes that Apple “wants a stay terminated without any requirement that you make any effort to comply. Time is not irreparable damage. “
Under Rogers’ original ruling, purchases made directly within iOS apps must continue to use Apple’s in-app payment system, as outlined in Apple’s Developer Agreement. That gives Apple a distinct advantage, Rogers writes: “Apple still maintains the convenience of IAP, and if it can compete on price, developers may choose to capitalize on that convenience, including the reassurance Apple provides consumers that it can provide. one or a better option. The fact is, it should be your choice. Consumer information, transparency and consumer choice are in the public’s interest. “
Apple is likely to use its opportunity to appeal the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before it takes effect on Dec. 9. Prior to that effective date, Apple has already relaxed its “external payment link” rules for many game applications. The company also agreed to allow developers to email customers about external payment methods as part of a separate class action settlement.
Rogers’ September ruling separately confirmed Apple’s decision to remove Fortnite from the iOS App Store and block Epic Games iOS developer accounts indefinitely. That part of the judgment will remain in effect even when Epic goes through its own legal appeals process.