US judge denies Apple's request to delay introduction of external in-app payment links

The judge found Apple had 'no credible reason' to push back the App Store change.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Since the US federal court provided a ruling for the app marketplace legal spat between Apple and Epic Games in September, both parties have filed appeals of the ruling due to its mixed nature.

On Apple's side, the iPhone maker filed an appeal last month in response to the one count where the presiding judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers ruled against it. For that one count, Gonzalez Rogers found Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct under California's competition laws. Consequently, she issued a permanent injunction to block Apple's App Store rule that prevents developers from adding in-app links to payment websites.

As part of Apple's appeal, it requested for the injunction's enforcement date to be pushed back until appeals were resolved.

On Tuesday evening, Gonzalez Rogers denied that request [PDF], stating Apple's belief that the injunction going into effect would cause irreparable harm to both itself and its customers was not based on credible grounds.

"Apple's motion is based on a selective reading of this Court's findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including super competitive commission rates resulting in extraordinarily high operating margins and which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property," Gonzalez Rogers wrote in an order denying Apple's request.

"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."

She added that evidence from the trial indicated the party who would benefit most from the injunction not going ahead was Apple itself.

In light of the request's denial, the injunction is set to go into effect on December 9.

The latest order comes 14 months after the court case first commenced, when Epic Games sued Apple after it was booted off the App Store for introducing a new payment system that sidestepped the tech giant's payment systems and in-app purchase commissions.

As Apple and Epic Games both prepare for a potential appellate hearing regarding the September ruling, the games developer continues to remain banned from the App Store's ecosystem despite it saying it would disable its own payments system.

"Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time. Furthermore, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court's judgment becomes final and non-appealable," Apple's legal representatives wrote in an email in late September, according to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.

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