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Apple wins last-minute reprieve from App Store changes while 'Fortnite' appeal plays out

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(Reuters) -Apple Inc on Wednesday won a reprieve from having to make major changes to its lucrative App Store while it appeals an antitrust lawsuit brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games.

In September, a U.S. judge ordered Apple to change its App Store rules, which ban developers from including links in buttons to outside payment systems rather than using Apple’s own in-app payments that charge a commission on sales. The injunction was set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday.

But with just slightly more than 12 hours remaining before the deadline, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Apple’s request to pause the order.

Apple shares were up 1.8% in late trading, though most of the rise took place before the court issued its order.

The appeals court order means Apple will not have to make the changes while it pursues a potentially years-long appeal of the Epic Games decision, which was largely favorable to the iPhone maker aside from the order to allow buttons to outside payment methods. The lower court did not find that Apple violated any antitrust laws, but said the company broke California’s unfair competition law by not allowing developers to tell consumers about alternative ways to pay for software.

“Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination,” the 9th Circuit Court wrote on Wednesday.

Apple said that “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.”

Epic declined to comment on Wednesday.

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