Apple asks court to stay ruling demanding it allow links to external payment systems by...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,656   +1,122
Staff member
In a nutshell: Epic's antitrust lawsuit against Apple concluded last month with both companies taking something of a victory lap after the ruling. Apple successfully defended against most complaints, and Epic won the right to use external in-app payment methods. However, both companies have filed appeals.

On Friday, Apple filed an appeal challenging Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers's ruling that it violated anti-steering laws by not allowing developers to link to external payment platforms. Rogers said that Apple must change its guidelines and let software makers link to external payment platforms. Apple has 90 days to comply with this portion of the judgment, making the due date early December.

However, Apple has asked for a stay on the ruling while it appeals to a higher court. Apple argues that the anti-steering rule is unnecessary because it has already changed its App Store guidelines to allow developers to inform customers of external payment systems. Although allowing developers to tell users of an alternative is not the same as letting them link to it within the app, as the ruling demands. It is worth noting that Apple has started allowing a classification of software it refers to as "reader apps" to link to their subscription and payment platforms, but this excludes game apps.

Apple insists that implementing direct linking to external payment platforms is risky for its customers. At the very least, it needs time to evaluate the risks and test the system.

"Links and buttons to alternate payment mechanisms are fraught with risk," read the appeal filing. "Users who click on a payment link embedded in an app—particularly one distributed through the curated App Store—will expect to be led to a webpage where they can securely provide their payment information, email address, or other personal information."

Apple lawyers say that just suddenly allowing developers to link to their own payment platforms will open users up to fraud. Even with staff dedicated to checking the validity of thousands of disparate external stores, there would be nothing stopping a shady developer from making malicious changes to its platform.

"While Apple could examine the links in the version of the app submitted for review, there is nothing stopping a developer from changing the landing point for that link or altering the content of the destination webpage," the legal team argues. "Additionally, Apple currently has no ability to determine whether a user who clicks on an external link actually received the products or features she paid for."

If Apple's stay and appeal are granted, it could tie up the court's order for years while the legal process plays out.

While Epic was happy with the small victory, losing the rest of its complaints was not something it was ready to accept and has also filed an appeal. Part of the judgment says Epic has to pay Apple more than $3 million for flagrantly skirting the App Store by offering an external payment alternative. Forking over Apple's share of off-platform sales is a small price to pay for getting legal approval for having external stores that don't answer to Cupertino.

Perhaps a more significant factor in Epic's choice to appeal was that Judge Rogers ruled it failed to prove that Apple exercised monopoly power. Rogers noted that while Apple was not currently monopolistic, it could become so in the not-so-distant future. In fact, the judge implied that her decision regarding monopoly power may have been different if Epic had focused more on it.

"The evidence does suggest that Apple is near the precipice of substantial market power, or monopoly power, with its considerable market share," wrote Judge Rogers. "Apple is only saved by the fact that its share is not higher, that competitors from related submarkets are making inroads into the mobile gaming submarket, and, perhaps, because plaintiff did not focus on this topic."

In the meantime, Apple has vowed that it will not allow Fortnite back on the App Store until the current lawsuit and all appeals are settled and closed.

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Posts: 98   +61
Developers can already update/enable parts of their apps remotely and link to shady payment platforms after the app is approved. High profile developers probably won’t do that because of the risk of getting banned. It’s not anything new if your intent is to defraud the customer.


Posts: 205   +106
In most country civil codes there are articles that invalidate agreements that have been made under pressure or threat.

I think these articles might apply in this case as well because epic was under pressure to lose access to a large part of the market if it did not sign the contract which was not negotiable.

Bao Nguyen

Posts: 118   +88
I laughed every time Apple used their for our customers safety arguments, their view must be that all other payment systems beside their own is a security risk.

Literally nobody asked them to go and check an external site for validity, all they need to do is a statement to their users that it is no longer their liability if users decided to do their payment on an external site, similar to how Android deal with side loading apps.

I'm 100% sure this is all for their greed, and it's their bottom line that they care about, never their customers' "safety".


Posts: 368   +167
At this stage, maybe it would be a good plan to reach out to consumers and ask them what they would prefer?

I use apple because I like the security and simplicity of a completely closed system. I'm sure many other consumers would prefer the system to remain closed too.


Posts: 502   +415
Apple has had it's monopoly going since early 2000s developing a fully walled garden of caged in services, and once invested made little sense to have the choice of choosing a non Apple product.
About time there time was over after the Apple 2 it's a worthless company of I'll conceived perceptions and half assed engineering making it's money off marketing and banded herd mentality,
the castle is about to burn to the ground, the pity of Microsoft and PC beating Apple into the ground can only prop up so much pity and forgiveness.