Apple asks judge to stay Epic Games’ antitrust orders as he appeals ruling

By Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – Apple Inc on Friday asked a U.S. federal judge to stay orders that could force it to change some of its App Store practices and said it is also appealing the ruling in an antitrust case brought by the creator of “Fortnite” Epic Games, according to court documents.

In September, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled overwhelmingly in favor of Apple after a weeks-long trial. But she demanded a key concession: from December 9, Apple could no longer ban app developers from including buttons or links in their apps that direct users to payment methods alongside the payment system. Apple’s integrated system, which charges developers a commission.

In his full 180-page decision, Gonzalez Rogers expressed concern that developers could not communicate with iPhone users about alternative pricing.

Apple said in Friday’s filing that complying with the order could harm it and harm consumers. He said he expects to win an appeal challenging the order and that he wants the legal process, which could take about a year, to go first.

Epic is separately appealing the judge’s finding that Apple did not violate antitrust law through its payment rules.

“The requested suspension will allow Apple to protect consumers and safeguard its platform as the company resolves complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological and economic issues,” said Friday’s filing.

In recent months, Apple has agreed to relax other rules regarding developer-user communications as part of settlements with developers suing the company and the Japanese antitrust regulator.

The company said it has already started discussing solutions that satisfy both Gonzalez Rogers’ demand for better informed consumers and his desire to protect them from scams and continue to collect commissions.

Apple is seeking a hearing with Gonzalez Rogers in early November on its suspension request. Epic’s opening arguments for its appeal are expected on December 12.

Apple has said it will keep “Fortnite” out of the App Store until all calls are exhausted.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave, editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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