While Apple declared the outcome of its legal battle with Epic Games a “resounding victory,” it was not a complete one. The federal judge in the case ordered Apple to allow developers to link to third-party payment portals in the App Store by Dec. 9, a deadline the company seems to want to push back for a long time.
On Friday, Apple filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking to overturn a Sept. 10 decision that largely ruled in its favor in everything but the judgement on the App Store. Until the appeals are resolved, the company also requested a stay, or suspension, of the injunction ordered by federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers that requires it to link to outside payment systems. Rival Epic had previously appealed the ruling on Sept. 12.
If the court approves the stay, the addition of alternative payment options in the App Store could be delayed for years while the companies fight it out in court. Allowing developers to link to third party payment portals —via “buttons, external links, or other calls to action”—would allow them to avoid forking over between 15% and 30% of their earnings to Apple, a commission colloquially known as the “Apple tax.”
Considering that Apple never wanted to include alternative payment options in the App Store in the first place, a requirement that would affect its bottom line, its legal moves on Friday are another attempt to get its way.
In its motion for a stay, Apple argued that implementing the court’s requirement in the App Store would harm both the company and customers.
“[P]recipitous implementation of this aspect of the injunction would upset the careful balance between developers and customers provided by the App Store, and would irreparably harm both Apple and consumers,” Apple stated. “The requested stay will allow Apple to protect consumers and safeguard its platform while the company works through the complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological, and economic issues that any revisions to this Guideline would implicate.”
As far as Epic goes, Apple maintains that the developer wouldn’t be affected by the requested stay since it’s banned from the App Store anyway until all litigation is complete.
In typical Epic fashion, CEO Tim Sweeney commented on Apple’s appeal by tweeting a picture of Fortnite character Peely the banana in his “Agent Peely” attire, a reference to Apple’s decision to show a tuxedo-clad Peely in court for the sake of propriety.
“Apple filed a peel,” Sweeney wrote.
Sweeney then lambasted Apple’s claim that “links and buttons to alternate payment mechanisms are fraught with risk,” because the company can’t guarantee that the third-party platform is safe.
“But seriously guys buttons are really dangerous, as Apple explains. Some buttons are big and red. Some buttons launch nuclear missiles. If software is allowed to include buttons, they could maybe cause iPhones to explode and kill you or, worse, void your warranty,” he added.