Apple Inc. (NAS:AAPL) on Wednesday scored a huge legal win when an appeals court put on hold a ruling in Epic Games Inc.'s antitrust lawsuit against the iPhone maker. The appeals court placed a stay on the enforcement of an injunction that would have forced Apple to allow external payment options on its App Store by Dec. 9. "Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court's determination," the ruling reads. "Therefore, we grant Apple's motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal." The stay does not reverse the earlier ruling but puts enforcement on hold until the appeals court can fully hear the case, a process that will likely take months. In September, federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers required that Apple would allow third-party payment systems on iOS apps as part of a broader ruling that dismissed antitrust allegations brought by Epic, the developer of Fortnite. "We're constantly evolving the App Store to help create an even better experience for our users and the incredibly talented community of iOS developers," Apple said in an email sent to MarketWatch. "Our concern is that these changes would have created new privacy and security risks, and disrupted the user experience customers love about the App Store. We want to thank the court for granting this stay while the appeals process continues." Epic was not immediately available for comment. Evercore ISI analyst Amit Daryanani called the stay "a win for Apple, as the possibility of the company being forced to allow developers to include in-app links to other payment platforms has been pushed out. We would note, however, that the overall appeals process outcome remains uncertain." Daryanani maintained an outperform rating and $180 price target. Another brokerage firm, Raymond James, expects the App Store to "remain at the status quo for a year or more."
Dec. 8, 2021, 5:36 p.m. EST