Epic Games has appealed the verdict in the antitrust case against Apple last week, which was heard in California earlier this year.
Epic was unable to convince the U.S. District Court that Apple was implementing an illegal monopoly by preventing iOS apps from providing alternatives to Apple’s payment processing system, and the ruling was almost entirely in favor of Apple. However, Epic did get a huge victory: According to California’s Unfair Competition Act, one of Apple’s rules that prohibit apps from advertising for its own payment methods is considered anti-competitive.
As a result, the court has ordered Apple to remove its rule that prohibits developers from including “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that lead customers to purchase mechanisms” in their apps.
We never thought that Epic would achieve an overall victory here, and it would not be a trivial matter to force Apple to change even one of its rules, but Epic did not celebrate this achievement and regarded it as a complete failure. This fight will continue with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
At the same time, the orders won by Epic affect all iOS application manufacturers. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney wants to know: What is a button?
If developers are allowed to place “buttons” that “guide customers to purchase mechanisms” in their apps, does that mean they can include a button in their apps to enter non-Apple checkout systems? This is what Epic hopes to be able to do and the only way to get Fortnite back to iOS. But Apple can say, no, an order only means that you can include a button to open a website that includes a purchase mechanism.
It’s a bit vague. No one knows exactly what the exact legal meaning of the word button is, here, but it is about to undergo a very thorough test. Apple has 90 days to comply with the ban.
The button issue is not the first time that the case requires a legal definition. On the day of the judgment, we reminded all of us that there is still no real legal framework for the actual situation of video games in the United States.
However, the court did affirm that Sweeney’s opinion on metaverse was sincere, and during the trial we recorded that Peely was “just a banana.” Maybe when everything is over, we will also know what the button is.