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Apple wins Epic court ruling: Devs will pay up for now as legal case churns on

Previous injunction that ordered company to allow non-Apple payments systems is suspended

Apple will not be required to implement third-party in-app payments systems for its App Store by 9 December, after a federal appeals court temporarily suspended the initial ruling on Wednesday.

As part of its ongoing legal spat with Epic, a judge from the Northern District Court of California said Apple wasn’t a monopoly, but agreed it’s ability to swipe up to a 30 per cent fee in sales processed in iOS apps was uncompetitive. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ordered an injunction, giving the iGiant 90 days to let developers add links or buttons in their apps to direct users to third-party purchasing systems.

Those 90 days were set to end on 9 December. If developers were allowed to process financial transactions using external systems they wouldn’t have to hand over their profits to Apple, they argued. When Apple tried to file for a motion to stay, which would pause the injunction until it filed an appeal, Rogers denied its request.

The iPhone maker later took its case up to the Ninth Court of Appeals and landed a small victory. “Apple, Inc has moved to stay, in part, the district court’s September 10, 2021, permanent injunction pending appeal. Apple’s motion is granted,” the order said [PDF].

Apple argued that if it was forced to allow third-party payments systems in iOS apps by 9 December, the App Store would have to be overhauled, making it more difficult for consumers, developers, and the company to navigate the platform.

“Apple has made a sufficient showing of irreparable harm, and that the remaining factors weigh in favor of staying part of the injunction and maintaining the status quo pending appeal,” the order said.

It means Apple will no longer have to allow external purchasing systems in apps; it can continue charging developers sales fees for now. The motion of stay stalls Roger’s previous injunction, but doesn’t overturn it completely. All is not lost for Epic yet.

Apple has appealed Roger’s order, but the case has yet to be heard by the Ninth Court of Appeals. “The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal. The existing briefing schedule remains in place,” according to the court documents.

The Register has asked Apple and the Coalition of App Fairness, a non-profit org backed by Epic fighting against in-app payments, for more comment. ®

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