Apple Gets Court Reprieve In 'Fortnite' Case: Doesn't Have To Make App Store Changes By Thursday

Apple Inc AAPL does not have to make forced changes by Thurssday to its App Store as it has won a reprieve from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case filed by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games.

What Happened: The Tim Cook-led company was ordered by a judge to make changes to its app marketplace rules, which forbid developers from including links to outside payment systems, in September. Apple was required to make those changes by Dec. 9, but the latest appeals court ruling means Apple has earned a breather.

"Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination," the court wrote, as per Reuters.

The iPhone maker said it was concerned that the changes ordered by the lower court would have “created new privacy and security risks, and disrupted the user experience customers love about the App Store.”

The case arose when Epic tried to bypass Apple’s in-app commission by providing alternative payment options to app users. Fortnite was ejected from the App Store in the resulting fallout.

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Why It Matters: The September ruling by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers was largely in favor of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant as the company was not termed a monopolist. 

However, the company was restrained from prohibiting developers from including external links or calls to action directing customers to purchasing mechanisms. 

Gonzalez Rogers was critical of Apple when the latter appealed the ruling. The judge said prohibitions on informing customers about other payment methods indicated “incipient antitrust conduct.”

Joel Mitnick, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, said the appeals court ruling signaled “a serious concern” that the lower court found that Apple violated California unfair competition laws but not federal antitrust laws, reported Reuters.

Mitnick said that in a previous case the same court found that conduct that does not violate antitrust laws cannot be the basis for finding unfairness under competition laws.

Price Action: On Wednesday, Apple shares rose nearly 2.3% higher at $175.08 in the regular session and fell almost 0.2% in the after-hours trading.

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