Sun, 26 Sep 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, California: In a partial win for Epic Games, creator of "Fortnite," and other app makers, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has limited the use of some of Apple's App Store rules.

The ruling on Friday, which came after a three-week trial, stipulates that Apple must allow developers to give their users the option to use other payment systems.

But the Northern District of California District Court judge did not force Apple to let app makers use their own in-app payment systems and allowed it to continue charging commissions of 15 to 30 percent for its own in-app payment system.

The judge also prevented Epic from forcing Apple to allow third-party app stores on its iPhone, and rejected the app maker's argument that Apple is a monopoly.

The lawsuit began after Epic installed its own in-app payments system in Fortnite.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that the ruling "is not a win for developers or for consumers," and the company said it would appeal the ruling.

As a result, Apple's critics and rivals stressed they are more likely to turn to lawmakers, instead of courts, to pursue their demands.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers described her ruling as a "measured" change to Apple's rules, but analysts said the company's implementation of the decision will determine its impact.

Many Wall Street analysts still looked favorably at Apple's long-term outlook, despite its shares being down down 3.2 percent on Friday afternoon.

In a letter to investors, Evercore ISI analyst Amit Daryanani stressed, "We suspect the eventual impact from this will be manageable."

"Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business," the company said in a statement.

During a media briefing, its legal team said the company is still deciding how it will implement the ruling and whether it will appeal, but it does not believe it must allow developers to implement their own in-app purchasing systems.

On Twitter, Sweeney responded, "Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers. We will fight on."

Friday's ruling suggests this battle is more likely to play out in statehouses and capitals, rather than courtrooms. South Korea has passed a law forcing Apple to allow third-party in-app payment systems, while lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe are also considering similar laws.

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