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Ninth Circuit hands Apple a reprieve in battle with Epic Games

Apple will get what it wants in its legal spat with Epic Games courtesy of the Ninth Circuit, which stayed a federal judge's order requiring it to change certain App Store rules.

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — Apple won’t have to change its App Store policies after all, thanks to the Ninth Circuit’s eleventh-hour decision to overturn a federal judge’s order requiring it to do so.

In November, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she wouldn’t hold off on imposing an injunction that requires Apple to allow external links and buttons that can direct consumers to other payment options outside the App Store.

But on Wednesday, Bill Clinton appointees U.S. Circuit Judges Sidney Thomas and Richard Tallman, and Ronald Reagan appointee Diarmuid O’Scannlain, said Apple had sufficiently shown that the order set to take effect on Dec. 9 would cause the company irreparable harm.

Gonazlez Rogers found Apple is not a monopolist in the digital mobile gaming transactions market, following a three-week bench trial in May.

"While the court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit
margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct. Success is not illegal," she wrote.

But she also struck down its rules banning developers from telling users how to pay them directly for digital goods as a violation of California's Unfair Competition Law, issuing an injunction permanently banning its anti-steering restrictions.

The appellate panel stayed the injunction until it can hear cross-appeals from Apple and Epic Games.

“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 judges wrote in a two-page order.

Attorneys for Apple and Epic Games did not respond to requests for comment.

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