Epic Games vs. Apple: Judge rules Apple must allow alternate payment methods for in-app purchases
District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has today ruled that Apple must allow developers to offer their users alternate payment methods for in-app purchases as part of the high-profile Epic versus Apple legal battle, ruling that Epic breached the App Store developer terms and must pay Apple damages for the period it violated the App Store payment policy.
Apple and Google pulled Fortnite from their respective app stores last year after Epic Games pushed an update to the Fortnite app that implemented a new “direct payment” option in an effort to evade the commission the App Store and Google Play store take from in-app purchases.
Epic Games quickly fought back by filing a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple, arguing that Apple has allegedly used a “series of anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices,” specifically citing the App Store and associate in-app purchase guidelines, which the Judge has dismissed.
For blatantly circumventing the Apple in-app purchase system, the District Judge has ordered that Epic Games pay Apple damages in an amount equal to 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue the developer collected from users from the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic’s direct payment option between August and October 2020, plus 30% of any such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020 through the date of judgment, and interest according to law.
Additionally, the judge has dismissed claims Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws, noting “success is not illegal” and the evidence Epic Games provided does not show antitrust conduct.
Apple has now been issued with a permanent injunction, which permanently restrains Apple from prohibiting developers from accepting payments from anything other than Apple’s in-app purchase system.
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 in 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.