Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers has filed a permanent injunction against Apple, with the ruling arriving early on Friday morning. This applies some major pressure to Apple, and it’s a giant setback for Apple’s App Store rules moving forward.
Update (09/10/2021): Apple has provided the following statement to Nick Statt:
Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. As the Court recognized ‘success is not illegal.’ Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs, and where rules apply equally to everyone.
The original article continues below.
Judge Gonzalez-Rogers says in the full ruling that the court cannot determine whether or not Apple is a monopoly in its own right, not under state or federal antitrust laws. However, the judge ruled that based on California’s competition laws, the company is engaging in anti-competitive behavior. Which led to this decision today.
Per the ruling:
Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.
This will impact Apple in big ways, of course. But it will probably ripple out to other companies as well, including Google — which is also engaged in a legal battle with Epic Games. Just when Apple will be forced to make these changes to its digital storefront remains to be seen, but one would have to imagine it would be relatively soon.
Apple also recently agreed to settle with developers in the United States, which will add some other key changes to the App Store. And, of course, South Korea just forced both Apple and Google to allow third-party payment options within their digital storefronts.
What about Fortnite?
Going further, in light of Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store to really kick things off, Judge Gonzalez-Rogers also ruled that Apple doesn’t need to reinstate the popular battle royale game into the App Store, even after this specific ruling.
Per the judge’s statement:
(1) damages in an amount equal to (i) 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Games collected from users in the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus (ii) 30% of any such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020 through the date of judgment; and
(2) a declaration that (i) Apple’s termination of the DPLA and the related agreements between Epic Games and Apple was valid, lawful, and enforceable, and (ii) Apple has the contractual right to terminate its DPLA with any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.
It will be interesting to see how Apple adapts to all of this. That is, if it holds up. Apple’s more than likely going to appeal this decision, so we may still be a ways away before this gets resolved.
August 13, 2020
- Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
- Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
- Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
- Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:
- Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
- Epic sues Google, too.
- Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.
August 14, 2020
- Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businessesimpacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
August 17, 2020
- Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.
August 18, 2020
- Apple issues an official statement on the matter in response to Epic Games.
- Epic Games is revealed to have sought a coalition of “Apple critics” to help fight against Apple.
August 20, 2020
- The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.
August 21, 2020
- Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
- Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.
August 24, 2020
- Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine development tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for iOS and macOS.
- Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.
August 26, 2020
- Epic confirms that the new season of Fortnite, which is Marvel-themed, will not be available on iOS or Mac. Cross-platform functionality with those platforms is also removed.
August 28, 2020
- Epic lets Fortnite players know in an email that it’s Apple’s fault they can’t play the new season of the game.
- Apple revokes Epic Games’ App Store and developer accounts.
September 8, 2020
- Apple countersues Epic Games in what it claims is a “breach of contract” related to its App Store practices.
September 9, 2020
- Epic Games says Apple is going to disable the “Sign in with Apple” feature as soon as Friday, September 11.
- Apple changes its mind regarding “Sign in with Apple”, allows existing customers to keep using it.
September 10, 2020
September 18, 2020
- Epic Games shuts down Fortnite: Save the World for Mac as of September 23.
September 24, 2020
- Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and other companies create the “Coalition for App Fairness” to take on Apple’s and Google’s digital storefront policies.
September 28, 2020
- U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says the public’s opinion regarding the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games should be considered, suggests a jury should be involved.
October 7, 2020
- Judge rules that the court battle between Apple and Epic Games will resume in May 2021.
November 5, 2020
- Fortnite returns to iOS thanks to GeForce Now game streaming service, and only available via Safari.
December 17, 2020
- Judge orders both Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games.
December 21, 2020
- Epic Games sends out “Free Fortnite” loot boxes to influencers, trying to drum up support
January 14, 2021
- Epic Games expands its legal battle with Apple and Google to the United Kingdom
February 1, 2021
- Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is ordered to sit through a 7-hour deposition
February 10, 2021
- Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney confirms that the company had been planning its lawsuit against Apple for months
February 22, 2021
February 25, 2021
- After some delay, a judge ruled that Valve has to hand over requested documentation to Apple
March 1, 2021
- Apple and Epic Games’ trial may be in person, and it is set to start in May
April 5, 2021
- Facebook is trying very hard to avoid handing over requested documents to Apple
April 27, 2021
- Apple has filed its expert witness testimony against Epic Games
April 28, 2021
- Epic Games files its own expert witness testimony against Apple
April 28, 2021
- Apple and Epic Games file revised witness testimonies