Apple gets appeals court to delay App Store changes in Epic Games Fortnite case, for now

The tech giant wins a crucial legal decision amid its high-profile case with Fortnite maker Epic Games.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
Apple computers

Apple's App Store remains the same for now.

James Martin/CNET

Apple scored another win in its legal battles with Fortnite maker Epic Games when the US District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed Wednesday to delay a judge's order to make changes to the way app developers accept payments in Apple's App Store. Apple now has until its appeals process with Epic concludes, which could take years.

"Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions," two judges from the court of appeals wrote. 

The ruling follows a flurry of competing filings from Epic and Apple arguing about how much control the iPhone maker should have over its App Store. Epic unsuccessfully argued to a US District Judge in California that Apple should be forced to allow app developers more freedom, both in how they offer apps to iPhone and iPad owners and how they charge customers. 

If Apple hadn't prevailed in its request, it would've been forced to allow people to pay a developer directly when seeking to pay for extra lives in a game or a new look for their character, rather than using Apple's in-app purchase system. That service, which Apple has operated since 2008, charges developers up to a 30% commission on any digital items bought within apps.

The debate has extended far beyond the courtroom, sparking conversations among lawmakers in the US and overseas who are now considering a series of laws designed to limit the power of big tech companies, including Apple. Apple had asked the appeals court to respond by Dec. 8.