Judge Rules Apple Must Allow Other Forms of In-App Purchases

The legal battle between Epic and Apple has made it to court. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers, of the United States District Court of Northern California, has issued a permanent injunction in the Epic v. Apple case. From the injunction:

Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.

The Verge reported that this means that iOS apps must be allowed to direct users to payment options beyond those offered by Apple. The permanent injunction will take effect in 90 days.

In addition, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers wrote a judgement that includes a counterclaim:

On the complaint, in favor of plaintiff Epic Games, Inc. on the Tenth Count for violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (with a separate injunction issuing herewith) and in favor of defendant Apple, Inc. on all other counts.

On the counterclaim, in favor of Apple on the counterclaim for breach of contract. Epic Games shall pay (1) damages in an amount equal to (i) 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Gams collected from users in the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus (ii) 30% of such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020, through the date of the judgement, and interest according to law.

CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, tweeted: “Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”

Tech Reporter for NPR, Bobby Allyn, tweeted: “Epic spokeswoman confirms it is appealing the decision; Apple is “considering all legal options” in response. Nobody’s happy!”

The results of the permanent injunction could be a big deal for companies that make games for iOS. They can do that and point consumers toward their own platform for payment.