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Apple must change App Store rules in a victory for the makers of Fortnite

Apple has been dealt a loss in its App Store battle with the creators of Fortnite.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers on Friday issued a permanent injunction requiring Apple to allow developers to include buttons or links in their apps directing users to other “purchasing mechanisms,” The Verge reports. The decision came as part of an antitrust trial that pitted Apple against Fortnite developer Epic Games. 

Epic in 2020 introduced a new direct payment system into the popular online game, an effort to get around the 30 percent fee that Apple collects on in-app purchases. This prompted Apple to remove Fortnite from the App Store for violating its rules, and Epic quickly filed a lawsuit in response, arguing Apple was imposing “unreasonable restraints” on developers to “unlawfully” maintain a monopoly. Under those rules, developers can’t inform customers in apps about purchasing options that aren’t through Apple’s payment system, The Washington Post notes

But in what The New York Times described as a “major setback for Apple,” the judge ruled that the company can no longer prevent developers from including in their apps “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms” other than Apple’s. The judge also said the trial showed that “Apple is engaging in anti-competitive conduct under California’s competition laws.” 

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But the judge also ruled that Epic failed to prove that Apple is an illegal monopolist, writing, “Success is not illegal,” per The Hollywood Reporter. Additionally, the court said Epic has to pay Apple 30 percent of the revenue it collected through its alternative payment system, finding that this did violate its contract with Apple, The Verge reports. Apple celebrated the fact that the ruling “affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law.” According to CNBC, the injunction is set to take effect in December.