Apple and Epic Games have been banned from legal proceedings since the iPhone maker removed Fortnite from the App Store over a year ago. Today, September 10th, the judge in some respects issued a permanent injunction in favor of Epic that requires Apple to allow app developers to generate revenue outside of the app store ecosystem.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers came to the conclusion that the court could not prove that Apple acted monopoly under the federal or state antitrust laws, but that “the trial has shown that Apple in the context of the Californian competition is anti-competitive Behavior participates “. Laws. “This was the only count the court sided with Epic Games on, with Apple winning all of the other nine counts.
“The court does not find that Apple is a cartel monopoly in the sub-market for mobile gaming transactions,” said the judgment. “It is found, however, that Apple’s behavior in enforcing unauthorized restrictions is anticompetitive. Some means of removing these provisions is appropriate. This modest means will increase competition, increase transparency, increase consumer choice and information, while preserving Apple’s pro-competitive iOS ecosystem. ”Furthermore, the courts do not require the court to manage micro-scale transactions are not suitable, as the Supreme Court has appropriately recognized. “
“Success is not illegal,” the verdict continued. “The final court minutes contained no evidence of other critical factors such as barriers to entry and declining production or innovation in the relevant market. The court does not consider this impossible; only that Epic Games failed to honor its obligation shows that Apple is an illegal monopoly. “
With this injunction, the court says that Apple is “permanently prevented and prohibited from prohibiting developers from including buttons, external links or other calls to action in their apps and their metadata that direct customers to purchase mechanisms in addition to in-app mechanisms “. Purchasing and (ii) communication with customers via contact points that the customer voluntarily receives through the account registration in the app. “
This is a landmark decision that will affect not just Epic Games but all developers in the App Store. This means that they can legally bypass the license fee Apple has been charging for all apps published on iOS since the App Store launched. It also means that Google could face similar treatment, with the tech giant also being embroiled in a lawsuit with Epic Games over the same concerns.
Epic Games is forced to pay Apple $ 12 million for its breach of contract last year, but the rules that were broken back then no longer matter to any app store developer. Apple must make this change within 90 days of the judgment, while Epic Games must pay 30% of the fine by the same time.
Speaking to GameSpot, attorney Richard Hoeg said, “At the preliminary stage, it appears to be an almost total victory for Apple. The judge has some harsh words for Apple’s business model and some of his testimony, but ultimately finds that it isn’t Case is. ” is a monopoly or otherwise violates federal antitrust laws and instead finds that Epic has violated its agreement and that Apple may terminate its relationship if so requested. “
That ruling comes just hours after Apple refused to allow Epic Games to re-release Fortnite on the South Korean App Store. Earlier this week, the South Korean government passed a similar ruling on Apple prohibiting them from forcing app developers into their licensing system because of similar antitrust concerns.
It could also mean apps that were previously banned from the App Store, like Xbox Cloud Gaming, can now find their way into the Store (we asked Microsoft for a comment). Apple will host its annual Fall iPhone event on September 14th. It is still unclear whether one or both of the appeals are filed, but Hoeg believes that appeals come from both sides.
“Now, I honestly expect both sides to appeal the decision, Apple on anti-steering (especially the nationwide application of California law) and Epic on practically everything else,” said Hoeg.
In response to the decision, Apple released a statement citing the judge’s ruling that “success is not illegal”. You can read the full explanation below.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, too commented on the verdict, says it’s not a win-win for developers or consumers, and suggests Fortnite may not be making a return to the App Store any time soon.
“Today’s verdict is not a win for developers or consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition between in-app payment methods and app stores for one billion consumers, ”said Sweeney. “Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payments in fair competition with Apple in-app payments, and pass the savings on to consumers. Many thanks to everyone who has put so much time and effort into the fight for fair competition on digital platforms and thanks in particular to the court for the quick processing of a very complex case. We will keep fighting. “
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