Apple has won a temporary reprieve from a ruling that would have forced it to open its App Store to alternative payment methods.

An appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday ruled that Apple doesn’t currently have to change its App Store rules to allow developers to embed links to alternate payment methods inside iPhone apps, CNBC reported.

This stay temporarily therefore protects Apple’s strict control over its App Store and the fees it generates, which can range up to 30 percent of digital transactions, until the court issues a mandate, CNBC reported.

App Store ruling

It should be remembered that in September this year, US district Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled mostly in favour of Apple in nine of the ten claims “Fortnite” developer Epic Games had brought against the company.

But one ruling that did not go Apple’s way, when the Judge ordered Apple to make major changes to its App Store, for the first time allowing developers to send their users to alternative payment systems.

Essentially from 9 December 2021, Apple had been ordered to no longer prohibit app developers from including buttons or links in their apps that will direct users to means of paying beside Apple’s in-app payment system, which charges a commission to developers.

Apple filed an appeal against this in October, to hold off on an order for it to change some of its App Store practices.

It argued that complying with the App Store order could cause it and consumers harm. Apple also reportedly said at the time that it wants the legal process, which could last about a year, to play out first.

And now the appeals court has granted Apple’s petition and given it a temporary reprieve.

“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,” the court ruled in an order reviewed by CNBC.

What this means is that the App Store can continue to prevent app developers from adding external links to other payment methods while the case is appealed.

“We’re constantly evolving the App Store to help create an even better experience for our users and the incredibly talented community of iOS developers,” an Apple spokesperson was quoted by CNBC as saying.

“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. We want to thank the court for granting this stay while the appeals process continues.”

An Epic Games spokesperson declined to comment.

Easing restrictions

Apple for its part has has made a number of App Store concessions recently.

In November 2020 Apple said it new App Store commission would fall from 30 percent down to 15 percent for small developers and businesses earning up to $1 million per year.

More recently Apple agreed to allow small app developers to email their users about alternative purchase options to the App Store billing

Then in early September, Apple added another App Store concession, with a new rule change in response to an investigation initiated by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission.

This will allow companies with “reader apps”, such as Spotify and Netflix, to direct customers to their own websites to make payments, allowing them to more easily avoid fees levied by the App Store.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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