Apple can not postpone payment changes in the App Store, says the judge in the Epic case

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., Downtown, arrives in U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, Friday, May 21. May 2021.

Nina Riggio | Bloomberg | Getty pictures

Apple will be forced to allow app developers to link to alternative payment sites, potentially enabling software companies to reduce the 1[ads1]5% to 30% fee that Apple charges for digital transactions through the App Store.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Oakland, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, rejected Apple’s appeal for a stay that would delay the court-ordered change, which means it will take effect in December.

. wrote Rogers in the order, calling Apple’s proposal “fundamentally wrong.”

In September, Rogers ruled in favor of Apple for nine out of ten points in an antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games. Epic sought the opportunity to install its own app store on iPhones. Both sides are now appealing the decision.

In a brief hearing Tuesday, Apple attorney Mark Perry said it would be a difficult process to allow links to external payments on the App Store, saying Apple needed more time.

“It’s extremely complicated,” Perry said. “There must be railings and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers, to protect Apple.”

Rogers expressed skepticism and said that Apple asked to postpone the changes for as long as five years.

“Apart from perhaps needing time to establish guidelines, Apple has not given any credible reason for the court to believe that the injunction would cause the alleged destruction,” Rogers wrote in Tuesday’s order.

The requirement does not necessarily mean that app developers do not have to pay App Store fees, even if they offer their own credit card processing.

Apple has not publicly explained how the App Store policies will change during the order, but they have signaled that they can find a way to charge fees even when buying outside the platform. Apple said in arguments Tuesday that it would need more time to build new software and policies to replace payments in the app.

In South Korea, Google’s Android app store was forced to offer off-platform payments due to a new regulatory regulation. Developers, even though they handle their own billing, pay Google 11% of gross transactions when the policy takes effect in 2022.

Apple said in a statement that it “believes that no further business changes should be required to take effect until all anchors in this case have been resolved. We intend to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay based on these circumstances.”

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