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Apple's App Store anti-steering rules put on hold as it appeals Supreme Court

Apple App Store

Apple has been granted a motion to put on hold a decision forcing the company to change its "anti-steering" rules within the App Store, giving Apple a bit more time to move forward with an appeal.

Apple was granted the motion to put on hold the previous appeals court ruling on Monday. With this mandate in place, it gives Apple an additional 90 days before it would need to make any changes related to "anti-steering" rules within the App Store, which all stems from the initial Epic Games vs Apple lawsuit.

With this motion, Apple is now appealing the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the ruling body to look over the ongoing case and the subsequent appeals.

As noted by The Verge, if SCOTUS does decide to hear the case, then it will remain stayed even longer, until the ruling body weighs in. Depending on that decision, if one does come down, it could result in major changes to Apple's digital storefront.

Apple's App Store tax has been a hot button issue for quite some time, especially for companies like Epic and Spotify. Apple's anti-steering rules are designed to limit how third-party developers and companies can direct customers to in-app purchases and subscription payments outside the App Store.

Apple takes a cut of all payments done from the App Store ecosystem, which courts have ruled does not violate any antitrust laws. However, it has also been ruled that those same third-party entities should be able to call to attention other ways to pay for things or subscribe to services.

It's worth noting that some companies, like Spotify, simply don't allow customers to sign up for their subscription services using Apple's proprietary payment system anymore.

The original ruling regarding Apple's anti-steering rules was handed down in September 2021, directly related to Epic Games vs Apple. Both companies appealed those decisions, though, with Apple winning nine of the ten claims.

That tenth claim covered anti-steering efforts. In April of this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that original ruling, meaning Apple still does need to make changes to the App Store.

Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise.

A never-ending epic

This all started in 2020 after Epic Games updated its ridiculously popular battle royale game, Fortnite to allow players to avoid Apple's payment system entirely and pay Epic Games directly. This allowed Epic to skirt Apple's digital storefront tax, which ruffled Apple's feathers.

Epic Games ad inspired by Apple's
Epic Games ad inspired by Apple's "1984" ad

Apple subsequently pulled Fortnite from the App Store, letting Epic Games know if they updated the title again and removed the new payment system option, the game could return. Epic Games refused, filing a lawsuit against Apple the same day they updated the game.

Eventually, the court case itself kicked off, and both sides saw ups and downs. However, it has primarily been Apple that's come out on top, at least in the U.S.

That may change with the decision from the Supreme Court, though, if they decide to hear the case.