Court Issues Stay on Apple’s Deadline to Implement App Store Changes

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 9 Dec 2021

In its lawsuit with Epic Games, Apple was issued an injunction directing it to allow developers to link to third-party payment systems for in-app purchases (IAPs) by December 9. The iPhone maker sought a stay on the injunction citing “substantial engineering” required to implement the necessary changes, which has now been granted.

In a statement released on December 8, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted Apple a stay deferring the implementation deadline for its App Store policy changes. Despite the stay, the Cupertino-based company still has to allow developers to link to third-party payment systems but will get more time to do so. It will also have more time to fight the injunction it is implementing.

The court opined:

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. If the same conduct is alleged to be both an antitrust violation and an “unfair” business act or practice for the same reason—because it unreasonably restrains competition and harms consumers—the determination that the conduct is not an unreasonable restraint of trade necessarily implies that the conduct is not “unfair” toward consumers.” Apple has also made a sufficient showing of irreparable harm and that the remaining factors weigh in favor of staying part (i) of the injunction and maintaining the status quo pending appeal.

“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 existing briefing schedule remains in place.”

Notably, Apple’s legal filing sought a stay on the court ruling and said that the company would charge developers a commission even if they use third-party payment systems for IAPs. Essentially, Apple will charge developers a commission for all purchases initiated on iPhone and iPad apps, irrespective of the billing system.

Do you think Apple will challenge the injunction now that the deadline has been deferred, or will it comply because it can charge developers a commission on IAPs anyway?