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A U.S. Supreme Court justice has temporarily stopped a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from taking effect in Fortnite publisher Epic Games’ three-year lawsuit against tech giant Apple, Bloomberg Law first reported.
The delay will give Apple time to submit an appeal of the ruling to the Supreme Court and, in the meantime, continue to enforce its current App Store rules that prohibit iOS apps from offering users information about—or links to—external payment methods or marketplaces.
Justice Elena Kagan reportedly did not give a reason for delaying the ruling from taking effect.
Back in April, the Ninth Circuit found that Apple had violated California’s Unfair Competition Law by not allowing iOS apps to provide users payment options outside of the company’s own in-app purchasing mechanisms—meaning Apple takes a 30 percent cut on all funds generated.
While the circuit ruled that Apple must allow developers to be able to link out to external sites, it also decided that Apple is within its rights to uphold its controversial 30% in-app purchase tax. The ruling represented a partial victory for Epic Games, which has long contested Apple’s App Store rules and previously had its Fortnite’s iOS app banned from the App Store.
If Apple does not file an appeal with the Supreme Court, or if justices deny that appeal, the Ninth Circuit ruling will eventually go into effect.
Apple’s strict App Store relating to in-app payments allow the tech giant to make billions of dollars from its cut of such sales. Forcing Apple to allow developers to link out to their own marketplaces—such as Epic’s Epic Game Store or NFT marketplaces like OpenSea—could dramatically increase the fortunes of developers, and adversely impact App Store revenue.
What does this latest development mean for mobile games that use NFTs and crypto tokens? For now, apps still won’t be able to redirect users to external marketplaces, and Apple’s existing rules will stand.
If the Supreme Court ends up siding with Epic, apps will be able to link out to external NFT marketplaces to avoid the 30% fee—but NFTs still won’t be eligible as a means to unlock in-app content.