Apple’s ‘Anti-Steering’ Rule Changes Paused for 90 Days Amid Appeal

On Monday, Apple secured a temporary reprieve when it was granted a motion to suspend an appeals court ruling. The ruling, now on hold, would have required the tech giant to dismantle its “anti-steering” rules and allow external developers to link to third-party payment systems.

The stay of the mandate will last 90 days, providing Apple with time to file a request for the Supreme Court to review the case, reports The Verge.

Apple’s anti-steering rules restrict how developers can guide users to subscriptions or in-app purchases beyond Apple’s App Store ecosystem, where the company earns a portion of the revenue. A district court previously found that Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach to iOS did not generally breach antitrust laws. However, it mandated the company to abolish rules that prevent developers from promoting alternative payment methods.

The stay will remain effective until the Supreme Court makes a decision to hear the case and, if it agrees to do so, until it delivers its judgment.

Epic’s lawyers, in their petition to lift the stay, argued that Apple’s claims hold “no prospect of Supreme Court review” and that Apple’s arguments are so weak that they “ignore key aspects of the panel’s reasoning and key factual findings by the district court”.

“Sadly, Apple’s anti-steering rules – which both the District Court and the 9th Circuit Court found to be illegal – will remain in place, as the 9th Court Court stayed the injunction that puts an end to the practice. Justice delayed, again,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney in response to the ruling.

Despite granting Apple’s request, Ninth Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. criticized Apple’s arguments, stating that they “cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny” and merely conceal its disagreement with the district court’s findings.

The original ruling in the Epic Games v. Apple case, which instructed Apple to remove its anti-steering rules, was issued in September 2021 following days of testimony in court earlier that year. Both parties appealed the decision.

In April this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original ruling. Now, Apple is seeking a Supreme Court review of the case, a decision that could significantly impact the future of the app ecosystem.

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