Judge Says Apple Has Until December 9 to Make App Store Change Letting Developers Link to Alternate Payment Methods
Following a virtual hearing earlier today, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has denied Apple's request to delay the implementation of a permanent injunction that will require Apple to make significant App Store changes.
As part of the judgement in the Apple v. Epic lawsuit, Judge Gonzalez Rogers is requiring Apple to allow developers to add in-app links to outside websites, paving the way for alternate payment options that do not require developers to use the in-app purchase system.
In the original ruling, Apple was given 90 days to implement the changes. Apple in October filed a request asking for more time, and the Cupertino company ultimately wanted to wait to implement any new App Store features until all appeals in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit have concluded.
Apple's request was denied and judge is not providing Apple with any additional time to add the requested App Store functionality, so the changes will need to be made by December 9. Based on the wording of the initial ruling, Apple will be prohibited from restricting developers from including "in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms."
Judge Gonzalez Rogers' said that Apple wanted "an open-ended stay with no requirement that it make an effort to comply," and that there are "multiple avenues" for Apple to comply with the injunction while protecting users.
The Court can envision numerous avenues for Apple to comply with the injunction and yet take steps to protect users, to the extent that Apple genuinely believes that external links would create issues. The Court is not convinced, but nor is it here to micromanage. Consumers are quite used to linking from an app to a web browser. Other than, perhaps, needing time to establish Guidelines, Apple has provided no credible reason for the Court to believe that the injunction would cause the professed devastation. Links can be tested by App Review. Users can open browsers and retype links to the same effect; it is merely inconvenient, which then, only works to the advantage of Apple.
Gonzalez Rogers also said that app developers should be able to choose to use the in-app purchase system or another system. "Consumer information, transparency, and consumer choice is in the interest of the public," she wrote.
Apple attempted to argue that making changes to the App Store rules could "upset the careful balance between developers and customers provided by the App Store," resulting in irreparable harm to Apple and consumers, but that argument was not successful. Apple was also not successful in its argument that it needed more time to work through "the complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological, and economic issues" that the required change would cause.
Apple told The Verge that it will appeal to the Ninth Circuit for a stay after being denied by Judge Gonzalez Rogers. "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," the spokesperson said.
Along with the request to stay the injunction, Apple in October filed an appeal against the ruling that is requiring it to change the App Store rules, but that appeal may not be able to play out before the December 9 deadline.