Apple granted last-minute request to avoid changing App Store developer rules

The App Store will no longer have to remove its rule that prevents developers from adding in-app links to payment websites.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Apple received some good news on Wednesday, as a US appellate court has allowed for the iPhone maker to temporarily pause making any major changes to its App Store policies as it continues its legal stoush against Epic Games.

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision pauses an injunction ordered in September that sought to require Apple to remove its App Store rule of banning developers from adding in-app links to payment websites.

"Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court's determination that Epic Games failed to show Apple's conduct violated any antitrust laws but did show that the same conduct violated California's Unfair Competition Law," the appellate court said.

The September injunction was made as part of a broader mixed ruling that largely favoured Apple. That mixed ruling is currently up in the air as both Apple and Epic Games have filed appeals against that ruling.

Apple had requested to stay the injunction last month, but District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers -- who issued the injunction -- denied Apple's request. At the time, Gonzales Rogers said she was not convinced that Apple's belief the injunction coming into effect would cause irreparable harm to both itself and its customers was based on credible grounds.

Apple then appealed that denial, which led to the matter being brought to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and its decision on Wednesday. The appellate court's decision is good timing for Apple as the injunction was set to go into effect on Thursday.

The stay does not overturn Gonzalez Roger's injunction, but its enforcement will be paused until an appellate court makes a decision on whether the September mixed-ruling should remain in place.

The legal spat between the companies arose last year when Fortnite was booted off Apple and Google's app stores for introducing a new payment system that sidestepped the tech giants' payment systems and in-app purchase commissions. Shortly after receiving the boot, Epic Games filed antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google across numerous jurisdictions, including in Australia. In all those lawsuits, Epic Games has accused the tech giants of conducting anti-competitive and monopolistic practices due to their 30% commission fee structures. 

With the matter set to face another round of hearings, it's now been over 15 months since Epic Games was removed from the App Store.


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