Apple has been granted a motion that puts a temporary hold on a recent appeals court ruling. This ruling would have required Apple to undo its “anti-steering” rules, allowing outside developers to link to third-party payment options. The hold will last for 90 days, during which Apple intends to file a request for the Supreme Court to review the case.
The “anti-steering” rules set by Apple limit how developers can direct users to make subscription or in-app purchases outside of the App Store ecosystem, where Apple takes a share of the revenue. Although a district court found that Apple had not generally violated antitrust laws with its closed iOS ecosystem, it ordered the company to remove rules preventing developers from including “calls to action” for external payment methods.
The stay on the ruling will remain in effect until the Supreme Court decides whether to review the case and, if it does, until the Court makes a decision.
Epic Games, the company that initiated the legal action against Apple, opposed the stay and argued that Apple’s claims had little chance of being reviewed by the Supreme Court. However, the Ninth Circuit Judge, Milan D. Smith Jr., despite granting the stay, pointed out that Apple’s arguments neglected important aspects of the panel’s reasoning and factual findings by the district court. The judge suggested that Apple’s arguments did not hold up to scrutiny and were mainly disagreements with the district court’s findings and objections to state-law liability.
The original ruling in the case came in September 2021, and both Epic Games and Apple appealed it. In April of the following year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Now, with Apple’s request for Supreme Court review, the final decision could significantly impact the future of the app ecosystem.