Apple files fresh appeal to stop court order demanding external payment systems in iOS apps

iGiant warned developers it could still charge fees for third-party financial transactions anyway


Apple has appealed a judge's decision forcing the company to allow developers to add external third-party payment systems in their iOS apps by December 9.

The iGiant is still embroiled in a legal battle with games maker Epic in an ongoing case at the Northern District Court of California. Although Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers found Apple wasn’t a monopoly, she agreed its in-app purchasing fee, which allows the company to take up to a 30 per cent cut in sales, was anticompetitive.

App developers, like Epic, believe these fees can be avoided if only they could offer customers alternative payment options. Rogers thus ordered an injunction giving Apple 90 days to allow developers to add links or buttons in their apps directing users to third-party purchasing systems. Apple tried to ask for an extension whilst it cobbled together an appeal, but Rogers denied the motion. Now, Apple has taken its request up with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Given the injunction’s effective date of December 9, Apple seeks immediate entry of an administrative stay that would expire 30 days after the Court’s ruling on the stay motion,” according to court documents [PDF] filed this week. “In the absence of a stay, by contrast, the App Store will have to be reconfigured—to the detriment of consumers, developers, and Apple itself.”

Trystan Kosmynka, Apple’s Senior Director of App Review, previously claimed opening up the App Store to external payments systems would lead to customers having “lower user confidence in...digital content purchases,” and it’d mean they were “less inclined to make purchases.”

Even if Apple were forced to abide by the initial injunction, it doesn’t necessarily mean developers can avoid paying in-app fees. The company could simply change its App Store guidelines to get a cut of purchases even if they’re processed by external payment systems.

“If the injunction were to go into effect, Apple could charge a commission on purchases made through such mechanisms...Apple would have to create a system and process for doing so; but because Apple could not recoup those expenditures (of time and resources) from Epic even after prevailing on appeal, the injunction would impose irreparable injury,” it warned in its appeal.

Time is ticking, and Apple asked judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to respond by 8 December – a day before the injunction is due to come into effect.

The Register has asked Apple and the Coalition of App Fairness, a non-profit org backed by Epic fighting against in-app payments, for more comment. ®


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