Federal Judge Orders Apple to Allow Developers to Use Third-Party Payment Methods in Epic Games Case

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Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Getty Images
Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Getty Images

A federal judge reached a decision in Apple’s ongoing legal battle with Epic Games on Friday, ordering the company to allow app developers to direct consumers to third-party payment methods outside Apple’s App Store.

According to the New York Times, under the new rule Apple is “permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from 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 communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.”

The news arrives just over a year after Epic’s battle royale game Fortnite was removed from the App Store, leading to the developer filing a lawsuit against Apple.

“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market,” the lawsuit, filed in August 2020, read.

Four months after the trail began in Oakland, California, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers also ruled on Friday that Epic failed to demonstrate Apple was operating an illegal monopoly.

“Epic Games failed in its burden to demonstrate Apple is an illegal monopolist,” Rogers wrote in her decision. “Nonetheless, the trial did show that Apple is engaging in anticompetitive conduct under California’s competition law.”

CNBC reports that Epic will appeal the decision. The company’s CEO Tim Sweeney took to Twitter today to criticize the ruling.

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

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Sweeney added that Fortnite will return to Apple’s App Store in light of Rogers’ decision, writing “Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers.”

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