Apple files appeal in Epic Games case, potentially delaying App Store changes for years

Tim Cook, Apple Inc.'s chief executive officer, arrives in Oakland, California on Friday, May 21st, 2021.
Apple has filed a notice in appeal in Epic Games and is seeking a stay of the injunction that allows developers to add in-app links for payment websites. According to company representatives, documents filed Friday.

Apple will win the stay. The judge will decide in November. A rule change that would allow developers to avoid App Store fees of 15%-30% may not be in effect until appeals have been completed. This could take many years.

Federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled for Apple in September in favor of nine of the 10 counts in an antitrust case brought by Epic Games, maker of Fortnite. Epic wanted to be able to install its own app store for iPhones. Apple's general counsel Kate Adams said that the ruling was a huge win at the time.

Apple was also required to make major changes to its store. Mobile apps can be used to direct consumers to other payment methods. This could potentially allow them to avoid Apple's App Store fees.

Currently, the injunction will take effect Dec. 9.

Apple has not yet made public statements about how its App Store policies will change in response to the order. However, some developers have begun to create software based upon their interpretation of it.

"At a very high level, I believe that this change without thoughtful restrictions to protect consumers, developers and the iOS platform will harm users, developers and the iOS platform more broadly," Trystan Kosmynka (Apple's senior director for App Review) stated in a filing Friday.

Representatives from Apple suggested that Apple could change its App Store policy to engage in discussions with the judge and eliminate the need for an Injunction.

Apple has made a few concessions to app distribution rules critics over the last year in response to regulatory attention and lawsuits. This was part of an effort to limit further major changes to its App Store. Apple argued that it should have the power to determine which software can be run on iPhones to provide a better user experience.

Apple has filed a statement explaining its reasons for staying the proceedings. It cites concessions it made in August as part of a separate settlement that was reached with small developers. The Judge Rogers has yet to approve the settlement.

Apple lawyers stated in court filing that the requested stay would allow Apple to protect its customers and safeguard its platform while it works through the complicated and rapidly changing legal, technological and economic issues that any revisions of this Guideline would involve.

Epic was also ordered to pay Apple damages. Epic Games filed a notice to appeal in September. Epic Games representatives declined to comment.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, made a joke about Twitter's appeal.

App makers would be able to bill customers directly without Apple's in app purchase system. This would put at risk the company's profit engine. The App Store is part the company's services division, which generated $53.8 billion in revenue during fiscal 2020. It accounts for approximately 20% of Apple's total revenue.

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