Apr 16, 2024 2 min read

Apple says it is compliant with App Store injunction, judge should reject Epic's latest objections

The US legal battle led by Epic Games over Apple’s App Store rules continues. Epic argues that Apple has failed to properly comply with a court order that forced it to change its rules around sign-posting alternative payment options within an app. In a new filing, Apple denies that claim

Apple says it is compliant with App Store injunction, judge should reject Epic's latest objections

Apple has insisted that it is now compliant with an injunction issued as part of its legal battle with Fornite maker Epic Games in the US. That injunction ordered the tech giant to make some changes to its App Store rules so that app developers can sign-post alternative payment options outside an app. Those changes have been made, but not in a way that pleases Epic. 

The gaming company says Apple's changes reflect “neither the letter nor the spirit” of the court's order. However, says Apple in a new legal filing, Epic just wants the court “to micromanage Apple’s business operations in a way that would increase Epic’s profitability”. Meanwhile, Epic's motion that asks the court to “enforce the injunction” is the Fornite company's “latest attempt to gain access to Apple's iOS platform and user-base for free”. 

Epic sued Apple over its App Store rules relating to in-app payments, which it claimed breach competition law. Most of its arguments failed in court, but the judge did conclude that the specific rule regarding sign-posting other payment options violated California law. Many app developers are obliged to use Apple's commission-charging transactions system for in-app payments, which is why directing users to options outside the app is attractive. The judge issued an injunction stating that Apple must allow that to happen. 

“Apple takes this court’s orders, including the permanent injunction, very seriously”, the new court filing states. “Well before the injunction went into effect, Apple invested significant resources into developing a new framework that would comply with the injunction while also protecting users and Apple’s investment in the App Store”. And when it was clear Apple had exhausted all routes to appeal the injunction, “Apple implemented that framework immediately”. 

The change means app developers in the US can now sign-post other payment options, but on the condition that Apple can still claim a commission on any transaction that began within an iOS app. Epic argues that that means it is no better off despite the rule change. Claiming that Apple's approach was a “blatant violation” of the court’s order, Epic asked the judge to intervene. 

A number of other app developers, including Spotify, have supported Epic through amicus briefs. Apple has already urged the judge to ignore those interventions, and it does that again in the new legal filing. “Epic’s amici, which are all enormous developers, similarly seek to pad their own profits without concern for consumers or the integrity of the iOS ecosystem. This court already rejected those arguments on the merits, and the limited anti-steering injunction neither addresses nor provides a vehicle to revisit that decision”. 

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