Apple must allow app developers to direct users toward alternative payments systems outside its App Store by Dec. 9, a federal judge in California ruled on Tuesday.
Denying a motion by Apple that could have delayed implementation of the order for years, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers handed a victory for app developers like Fortnite developer Epic Games and Tinder owner Match Group.
Under current App Store rules, developers aren’t allowed to tell customers about alternatives to Apple Pay, which takes what they say is an exorbitantly high commission of up to 30 percent.
Under Gonzalez Rogers’ order, Apple must allow developers to use in-app links, buttons and messages to tell users about other ways to pay — a practice that Apple has strictly banned in the past.
In a September decision in a suit Epic brought against Apple, Gonzalez Rogers said that Apple “is engaging in anti-competitive conduct under California’s competition laws” by not allowing alternative payment options.
However, she also ruled in favor of Apple on nine out of 10 counts, concluding that Epic breached its contract with Apple when it let Fortnite users pay it directly. Both companies have appealed the ruling — and Apple was seeking to keep its lucratively strict payments policy in place until the process plays out.
Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Apple attorney Mark Perry of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher argued the company needed more time to write a new policy for developers that complies with the order.
“It is exceedingly complicated. There have to be guard rails and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers, to protect Apple. They have to be written into guidelines that can be explained and enforced and applied,” he said.
Gonzalez Rogers was skeptical that Apple needs a stay of proceedings, or pause in the order, for the full length of an appeal.
“You did not ask for a few months. You didn’t ask for six months. You didn’t ask for a limited amount of time. You asked for a an across-the-board stay which could take three, four or five years,” she said.
Gonzalez Rogers did not make a ruling on Apple’s request during the hearing on Tuesday but said she intended to do so “very quickly” in writing.
With Post wires