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Coalition For App Fairness is not a front for Epic Games, other app makers argue as Apple tries to halt payment link injunction

By | Published on Monday 6 December 2021

Epic Games logo

The back and forth continues in the US Ninth Circuit appeals court as Apple tries to pause an injunction that will force it to allow all iOS app makers to include links to alternative payment options elsewhere on the internet, alternative options which circumvent the tech giant’s own in-app payments platform. In the latest development, the Coalition For App Fairness has hit back at claims that it is a front for Fortnite maker Epic Games.

Epic – like Spotify – claims that Apple’s App Store rules are anti-competitive. In particular, it doesn’t like the rules which say that all in-app payments must be taken via Apple’s commission charging transactions platform, and that alternative ways to pay outside the app cannot be directly linked to.

As part of a wider legal dispute between Apple and Epic over the App Store rules in the Californian courts, the judge overseeing that case issued the injunction ordering Apple to allow all app makers to include links to alternative payment options. That injunction is due to go into force this week.

However, Apple is seeking to get the injunction paused – or ‘stayed’ – on the basic both it and Epic are appealing the wider judgement in their Californian legal battle. The judge who issued the injunction refused to delay it, which is why the matter is now before the Ninth Circuit appeals court.

Last week, four other app makers and the Coalition For App Fairness sought to intervene in the case via a so called amicus brief, calling on the Ninth Circuit to reject Apple’s bid to delay the payment links injunction. That injunction, they argued, was a “vital cure for an extremely harmful and anticompetitive practice”.

However, in response Apple argued that the Coalition For App Fairness was an organisation basically controlled by Epic – and that the four other app makers involved in the amicus brief, all also Coalition members, were seeking to intervene at Epic’s instruction. Therefore, it said, the appeals court should ignore that intervention.

“CAF was created by Epic, is controlled by Epic, and answers to Epic, as the district court recognised and the trial evidence confirms”, Apple wrote in a submission to the court. “CAF’s motion is nothing more than an attempt by Epic to file two responses rather than one to Apple’s stay motion”.

But none of that is true, the CAF and the other app makers named in the amicus brief argued in a subsequent legal filing. They stated: “It is simply untrue that CAF (who, in any event, is only one of five amici here) is singularly controlled by Epic. CAF is an independent organisation with a board of directors charged with making decisions. No single one of its over 60 members carries more authority than any other”.

The other app makers also disputed Apple’s claim that – because they all run subscription services, which are governed by different App Store rules to things like Fortnite – the injunction wasn’t relevant to them anyway.

Actually, they argued, some of the app makers involved in the amicus brief are not entirely subscription based (or, in one case, subscription based at all). Plus, the lower court’s injunction “explicitly applies to any app, not just apps that are not strictly subscription fee based”.