Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled on Friday in a closely watched trial between Apple and Epic Games.
Rogers ordered an injunction stating that Apple would no longer be allowed to block developers from providing links or other communications that steer users away from Apple’s in-app purchases, which it generated sales. takes 15% to 30% of
The injunction responds to a long-standing complaint from developers and suggests the possibility that developers could direct their usage to subscribe or purchase digital content on its website, hurting sales of Apple’s App Store. can.
The ruling ends the first part of a battle between the two companies over Apple’s app store policies and whether they cut the competition. Apple has won 9 out of 10 cases, but will be forced to change its policies on the App Store and loosen its grip on in-app purchases.
Rogers said Apple is not a monopoly and that “success is not illegal”.
“Based on the trial record, the court ultimately cannot conclude that Apple is a monopoly under federal or state antitrust laws,” Rogers wrote.
However, he found that Apple was engaging in anti-competitive behavior under California law and issued an injunction, which will take effect in 90 days.
“The court found that Apple’s anti-management provisions conceal critical information from consumers and illegally prevent consumer choice,” Rogers wrote. “When coupled with Apple’s original antitrust violations, these anti-operational provisions are anti-competitive and domestic action is needed to remove these provisions.”
Apple shares fell 2% on Friday.
The trial was held in Oakland, Calif., In May, and the company’s two CEOs testified in open court. People familiar with the lawsuit previously told CNBC that both sides hope the decision will be appealed regardless.
Since the trial ended, but before the ruling was made, Apple has made several changes to appease criticism, some as part of deals with other app developers, including some rules about sending emails. e-mails to customers. to encourage them to make non-app purchases and authorize some. Links in applications.
Rogers wrote in the ruling that he disagreed with Apple and Epic Games due to Apple’s alleged dominance in the market. Rogers discovered that it was a “digital mobile game transaction”, not having control of the apps in the App Store, as Epic Games claimed, nor of all video games, like Apple did. claimed.
Battle on Fortnite
Epic Games is one of the biggest companies to challenge Apple’s control over its iPhone App Store, which has strict rules on what’s allowed and what’s not, and plenty of software to use in it. an integrated payment system. Developers are needed, which takes between 15% and 30% of the time. % of each transaction.
Epic’s most popular game is Fortnite, which earns money when players purchase V-Bucks or in-game currency to purchase costumes and other cosmetic changes.
Epic was not asking Apple for money. Instead, he wanted to allow him to create his own App Store on the iPhone, which would allow him to bypass Apple’s deduction and impose his own fees on the games he distributed. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney followed suit in early 2015, according to court records and protests against Apple’s in-app buying rules.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is cross-examined by Gary Bornstein as he testifies at the stand in a week-long antitrust trial in federal court in Oakland, California, United States, in this sketch of the courtroom.
Vicki Behringer | Reuters
But the public dispute between the two companies began in August 2020, when Epic implemented a plan to challenge Apple, dubbed “Project Liberty,” according to a court file.
Epic Games has updated Fortnite on its servers to reduce the price of its in-game currency by up to 20% if players buy directly from the company, bypassing Apple’s technology and depriving users of its in-game payments. . Violate Apple’s rules for deletion.
Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, meaning new users couldn’t download it and it would eventually stop working on the iPhone because the app couldn’t be updated. As expected, Epic then filed a lawsuit that culminated in the May trial.
At the trial, Apple CEO Tim Cook testified one of the last few days and faced scathing questions from Judge Rogers over his restrictions aimed at encouraging users to make non-in-app purchases,
“I don’t think you really feel any pressure or competition to change the way developers deal with issues,” Rogers said.
Epic Games has also sued Google for control of the Play Store for Android phones. This case has yet to be heard.