Judge denies Apple appeal in Epic ruling

The tech giant will have to allow developers to link to non-App Store payment systems by 9 December

Apple’s request to delay App Store payment changes that would take effect starting December have been formally denied.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who has been presiding over the Epic v. Apple legal battle since 2020, has ordered Apple to comply with the decision to allow developers to link to non-App Store payment systems by 9 December.

The order comes a month after Apple filed a notice of appeal of the ruling, which judge Gonzalez Rogers described as “based on a selective reading of this Court’s findings”.

“Apple’s motion (...) ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction,” she stated.

Gonzalez Rogers’ decision was motivated by Apple’s choice of an “indefinite” injunction “with no requirement that it make any effort to comply” with her order.

“You haven’t asked for additional time. You’ve asked for an injunction which would effectively take years. You asked for an across-the-board stay which could take 3, 4, 5 years,” she told representatives of the tech giant on Tuesday evening.

Commenting on the appeal, Epic attorney Gary Bornstein said that “Apple does nothing unless it is forced to do it”.

However, Apple attorney Mark Perry described the process of allowing developers to link to non-App Store payment systems as “exceedingly complicated”.

“This will be the first time Apple has ever allowed live links in an app for digital content. It’s going to take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business, and other issues,” he said.

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“There have to be guardrails and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers, to protect Apple. And they have to be written into guidelines that can be explained and enforced and applied.”

Due to Gonzalez Rogers’ refusal to grant the injunction, Apple is planning to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It's likely hoping that it will repeat a similar case from 2019, when the Ninth Circuit reversed Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling in the Apple v. Pepper case, which was also focused on the 30% App Store fee.

"Apple believes no additional business changes should be required to take effect until all appeals in this case are resolved. We intend to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay based on these circumstances," Apple told Reuters.

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