A U.S. court has asked Apple to accept alternative payment methods within the App Store starting Dec. 9. The company appealed. The Group wants to continue to hold on to a revenue share for in-app purchases – regardless of the payment method.
The Epic Games vs. Apple case began back in August 2020. Subject of the lawsuit: Apple has banned the shooter game Fortnite from its App Store after developer Epic Games bypassed the common system for in-app purchases. The oral proceedings ran from 3 to 24 May 2021.
The court agreed with Apple on nine out of ten counts. On November 9, however, there was another decision: The group must allow alternative payment methods within the App Store in addition to its own payment service. Within a period of 30 days from 9 December.
Epic Games vs. Apple: The Background
The popular battle royal shooter Fortnite, which Epic Games has developed, is considered the trigger for the legal dispute. For in-app purchases of games and apps, Apple usually withholds commissions of 15 to 30 percent of the revenue.
Epic Games didn’t like that. The company therefore included a link in its game that allowed players to buy in-game items for the same price, but externally. Epic Games apparently wanted to bypass the commissions to Apple.
The Californian company subsequently banned the game from its App Store. The two companies conducted the proceedings before a court in North Carolina. The resident judge was Yvonne Gonzales Rogers.
On September 10, 2021, the verdict was handed down. Apple was right in nine out of ten points. This included, among other things, the right to a revenue cut of up to 30 percent. Lawyers, however, took the decision with mixed feelings.
Apple must allow external payment methods in the App Store
It was not surprising that Epic Games appealed in the same month. The revenue cut, which Apple is now undisputedly allowed to carry out, is not in the interest of the game developer.
On one point, however, Epic Games was right. Because the judge saw a violation of competition in the fact that Apple prohibited users from referring to another purchase option outside the App Store.
Apple requested that the decision regarding the in-app purchases be temporarily suspended until the procedure was finally concluded. However, the judges have not yet granted the group a postponement.
Tech giant appeals against Epic Games
Since alternative payment methods beyond the in-house payment system would entail considerable financial losses for Apple, the group took action against it in the next higher instance. The company made it clear that it would not want to forego commissions and a percentage revenue share in the future – but regardless of the payment method.
Apple would therefore allow alternative payment methods, but would continue to insist on its commissions. Group CEO Tim Cook declared a few months ago that his company would develop a corresponding tracking procedure for this purpose.
Starting December 9, app developers in the U.S. will theoretically be allowed to point out alternative payment methods within the app stores using buttons or links. How Exactly Apple intends to collect its commissions in the future is still unclear.
In a way, at the last minute, a US federal court has suspended the injunction against Apple. Although the judgment remains in force, the court has granted the group a postponement until the complete proceedings have been completed.