Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers has just handed Epic a major victory by permanently restraining them from stopping developers from linking out to alternate payment methods outside of the app store.

Apple is also prohibited from preventing developers from communicating with users via information gathered from their apps via account registrations.

The text of the permanent restraining order reads:

(Apple is) 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 communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.

The order will go into effect on the 9th December 2021, unless a higher court overrules it.

Apple won one small victory – they found Epic was in breach of its contract with Apple at the time of its bold move to sell V-bucks directly to iOS customers, and the judge ordered Epic to pay 30% of its iOS revenue collected since the breach – a small sum of only $3.5 million.

The judge failed to find Apple was a monopoly, noting that the market was all digital mobile gaming transactions, not just those that take place on iOS, but it did find Apple engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, saying:

“The court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws. Nonetheless, the trial did show that Apple is engaging in anti-competitive conduct under California’s competition laws.”

In a statement Apple said:

“Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law,” a representative said. “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.”

While Apple was not declared a monopolist, the tide is certainly turning regarding its restrictive rules, with South Korea recently banning their rules around alternate payment providers, and Apple settling with Japan’s regulators to allow “reader apps” to show signup links to users to places outside the app store.

The precedent may mean Epic will also win its battle against Google, which has similarly been engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

via the verge

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