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Epic v. Apple ruling put on hold after appeals court grants a stay

Apple can maintain its App Store payment monopoly while the case proceeds

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

An appeals court has paused one of the most consequential parts of the Epic v. Apple ruling, placing a stay on the enforcement of the injunction issued by the lower court. As a result of the stay, Apple can maintain its IAP system as the sole source of in-app payments on iOS, despite the district court’s earlier ruling that the exclusive arrangement is illegal.

The stay, issued Wednesday afternoon, does not reverse the earlier ruling but puts enforcement on hold until the appeals court can fully hear the case, a process that will likely take months.

“Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination,” the ruling reads. “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.”

“Our concern is that these changes would have created new privacy and security risks, and disrupted the user experience customers love about the App Store,” said Apple spokesperson Marni Goldberg in a statement. “We want to thank the court for granting this stay while the appeals process continues.”

Notably, the stay does not extend to the second part of the injunction, which dealt with user communications outside iOS. Specifically, the court ordered Apple to allow “communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.” That order will remain unaffected by the stay.

Apple will also remain bound by its agreement with the Japan Fair Steering Commission, which placed similar anti-steering restrictions on iOS outside the context of the Epic case.

In September, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers required Apple to allow third-party payment systems on iOS apps as part of a broader ruling that dismissed antitrust allegations brought by Fortnite developer Epic Games. Specifically, the court ruled that beginning December 9th, Apple could no longer prohibit “buttons or external links” that direct users to payment systems outside the App Store, as the company previously had in its app store guidelines.

Epic Games declined to comment when reached by The Verge.

Apple had previously moved for an injunction from the district court to pause its order but was denied.

Update 6:18PM ET: Included statement from Apple spokesperson.