Apple has secured another victory in its ongoing legal battle with Epic Games over App Store policies. The dispute began in 2020 when Epic Games violated App Store guidelines by offering users an alternate in-app purchase system. The ensuing legal battle has seen both companies argue over antitrust laws and whether or not Apple holds a monopoly over applications and games available through its store.
Back in 2021, a judge ruled in favor of Apple, saying that the company is not a monopolist, but Epic Games was quick to appeal the decision. However, on Friday, April 21st, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Apple again, upholding the original ruling, as reported by Bloomberg, via MacRumors. The court rejected Epic Games’ claims that the App Store rules violated antitrust laws by not allowing for third-party app marketplaces.
The appeals panel, however, upheld the judge’s ruling in Epic’s favour on California state law claims. As a result of the ruling, Apple has been ordered to implement App Store changes that will allow developers to use metadata buttons, links, and other calls to action to direct customers to purchase mechanisms outside of the App Store. This will enable developers to implement alternative payment options, paving the way for increased competition.
“There is a lively and important debate about the role played in our economy and democracy by online transaction platforms with market power,” the three-judge panel said. “Our job as a federal court of appeals, however, is not to resolve that debate — nor could we even attempt to do so. Instead, in this decision, we faithfully applied existing precedent to the facts.”
In a statement to MacRumors, Apple said that the decision reaffirms its “resounding victory” against Epic Games. The company believes that the App Store continues to promote competition, drive innovation, and expand opportunity, and is proud of its profound contributions to both users and developers around the world.
While the ruling is a win for Apple, it is unclear how it will affect the ongoing debate over the role of online transaction platforms with market power. The ruling is likely to have significant implications for both Apple and the wider tech industry.