Apple wants another chance in the legal battle against Epic Games.
On Friday night, Apple announced it would request a suspension from a judge’s order in September, which said Apple should allow apps to direct customers to external websites. That ruling would allow app companies to circumvent Apple’s requirement to allow payments only within apps, on which Apple gets up to 30% off. Apple is also appealing the ruling.
With Epic Games also appealing the nine lost counts, it could take years to resolve the case and force Apple to make changes to iOS, the operating system for iPhones, as the two companies navigate the appeals process in court. wrestle.
The judge is expected to rule on Apple’s request for payment deferral next month.
Apple’s move is a surprising reversal from the tone after the decision in September. While the company always left open the possibility of appeal, it portrayed the judge’s ruling as a resounding legal victory for its App Store business model, which has come under fire from tech rivals, international regulators and members of the US Congress.
“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling and consider this a huge victory for Apple,” Apple’s attorney Kate Adams said in September after the ruling.
The announcement on Friday night sparked a flurry of comment from Apple reviewers. They pointed out that the move would preserve Apple’s App Store profits by preventing apps from using alternative payment systems. A company announced last week that it was already working on a cheaper, web-based alternative to Apple’s app payments — a move made possible only by the ruling Apple is now appealing. Apple doesn’t disclose profit margins for the App Store, but it did generate about $64 billion in gross sales in 2020.
Apple said it has filed the appeal now as it faces a legal deadline this month. If Apple didn’t appeal now, it would lose the option forever, and it could always change its mind and withdraw the appeal. Apple also framed its appeal as a way to delay a hasty business decision before the case is fully closed. The judge’s current order requires Apple to allow apps to link to the Internet by December.
If the judge grants Apple the injunction next month, the status quo will remain until Epic Games and Apple resolve their issues. That could take years and help Apple resist more forced changes to its App Store model.
In the meantime, however, there are plenty of other outside legal threats to Apple’s App Store. For example, a bipartisan bill in the Senate would force Apple to accept alternative in-app payments. In addition, Apple is already forced to comply with a regulatory decision by Japan to allow some apps to link to websites. (The Japanese order doesn’t apply to games, where most think Apple makes the most profit in the App Store.)
Apple initially labeled the ruling in the Epic Games case a victory, but the appeal shows it will protect its lucrative App Store model to the bitter end.