Epic battle latest: Judge reminds Apple it has 30 days to let apps link out to non-Apple payment systems

Cupertino tells The Reg it will fight on


Apple must allow apps in its iOS store to direct users to outside payment systems within the next 30 days, a federal judge in northern California reminded the super-corporation this week.

The iPhone giant emerged mostly unscathed from its ongoing legal war with Epic Games; Apple won nine out of ten counts brought against it by Epic, which had claimed the iGiant's rules regarding in-app payments were anti-competitive.

At the heart of the lawsuit was Epic's unhappiness that it, along with other application developers, must use Apple's payment systems if their software is to appear in the iOS software store, allowing the iGiant to take up to a 30 per cent cut in their sales. Breaking these rules will result in expulsion from the App Store, which is exactly what happened to Epic.

In the resulting courtroom clash, Epic scored a partial win on the point of allowing apps to link out to external payment systems, ie: not Apple's. In September, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued an injunction banning Apple from preventing developers from directing their users to third-party purchasing systems via links and buttons in apps.

By using these external providers, developers could potentially avoid paying fees to Apple. We note that the iTitan could adjust or clarify its App Store fine-print to demand a cut from outside transactions.

Apple filed a motion to stall the court order for a few days while it pulled together an appeal, and Judge Rogers on Tuesday denied the request.

“Apple’s motion is based on a selective reading of this court’s findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including supercompetitive commission rates resulting in extraordinarily high operating margins and which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property,” Judge Rogers ruled [PDF].

And so that means Apple has 90 days to comply with the court order, and seeing as 60 days have already passed, that leaves 30 days, meaning Apple has until December 9 to get with the program.

"The court afforded Apple 90 days to comply," said Judge Rogers, "and it still has approximately 30 days before the injunction goes into effect. Thus, the court sees no need for an additional 10 days for Apple to file its appeal of this ruling. Granting this extension would extend the deadline to the end of December just before the December holidays which itself is inconvenient."

The tech giant told us it will ask a higher court to pause the injunction while it seeks an appeal in the Epic case.

"Apple believes no additional business changes should be required to take effect until all appeals in this case are resolved. We intend to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay based on these circumstances,” an Apple spokesperson told The Register.

We note that in August, as a peace offering to app makers, Apple agreed to allow developers to email or message their users "regarding alternative purchase options," something that was previously banned. ®


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