Apple Wins Stay in Epic Case, Won't Have to Implement App Store Changes Tomorrow
Apple has successfully won a stay on an injunction that would have required it to make sweeping App Store changes as soon as December 9, so for the time being, Apple can continue to require developers to use its in-app purchase system without offering alternatives.
The judge in the ongoing Epic v. Apple lawsuit had ordered Apple to allow developers to provide customers with alternatives to in-app purchases within their apps, and she gave the Cupertino company until December 9 to implement the changes. Apple asked for a stay, which she denied, and after that denial, Apple kicked the request up to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeals court granted the stay, and said that Apple has demonstrated that its appeal raises "serious questions" about the ruling in the original case.
Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court's determination that Epic Games, Inc. failed to show Apple's conduct violated any antitrust laws but did show that the same conduct violated California's Unfair Competition Law. [...]
Therefore, we grant Apple's motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal.
The court has stayed the enforcement of the injunction until it is able to fully hear the case, which could take several months. While the court considers Apple's appeal, Apple will be able to operate the App Store as is.
In the original ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers said that Apple would be prohibited from restricting developers from including "in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms," paving the way for alternate payment options that do not require Apple to use the in-app purchase system.
Apple has argued that the proposed App Store changes could "upset the careful balance between developers and customers provided by the App Store," resulting in irreparable harm to Apple and consumers, and Apple has also claimed that it needs more time to work through "the complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological, and economic issues" that the required change would cause.
Should the appeals court ultimately rule in Apple's favor after examining the case, the injunction could be vacated permanently. Apple's win today means we will need to wait several more months for the legal process to play out before any App Store changes are implemented.
As for Fortnite, there is no clear path for the app to return to the App Store and it appears it will continue to be unavailable on Apple's platform.