A federal judge ruled this week that Apple can’t push back the deadline to update its App Store policies, as previously ordered in the court’s decision on California’s Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit. Though Apple largely won that case when the judge declared that Apple was not acting as a monopolist, the court sided with the Fortnite maker on the matter of Apple’s anti-steering policies regarding restrictions on in-app purchases.
The original ruling stated that Apple would no longer be allowed to prohibit developers from pointing to other means of payment besides Apple’s own payment systems. But Apple wanted that decision put on hold until its appeals case was decided — a delay that would have effectively pushed back the App Store changes by a matter of years.
The judge heard Apple’s requests for a stay on the injunction that was ordered, which would have pushed back the December 9 deadline which forces Apple to start allowing links to alternative payment options inside apps.
The question is now whether or not Apple will actually comply (in the way developers are imagining) and if so, how exactly it will interpret the ruling. In South Korea, Apple was ordered to do something similar but said it believed it was already in compliance due to how the law was written, leading to further discussions between it and regulators.
Meanwhile, Google complied with the South Korean law but noted it still requires commissions for third-party payments, just at a reduced rate. While it’s a major step to see any of these app stores open up at all, these moves indicate that the language used to direct changes across the app store has to be precise, or else the companies will find a loophole.
In the meantime, Apple says it intends to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay as it believes “no additional business changes should be required to take effect until all appeals in this case are resolved.”
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney pointed out the judge’s ruling was good for developers, not necessarily good for Epic itself, as Apple plans to block Fortnite from the App Store throughout the appeal process.