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Breaking down Apple’s odds for a pause on App Store changes

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan breaks down Apple’s move to halt court-ordered App Store changes in Epic Games feud.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Apple has just announced an event, October 18. And experts predict they'll be debuting the next MacBook Pro. But away from the bright lights of product launches, Apple is asking a federal court to hold off on an order to change the way its App Store does business. That decision could have a major impact on App Store sales. Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan has been talking with legal experts to handicap Apple's chances. And she joins us now. So what have you found, Alexis?

ALEXIS KEENAN: Hi, Alexis. So first, let's just talk about what this injunction request is all about. Apple on Friday filed a motion, and they asked a federal judge to stop an injunction that's planned to take effect on December 9. Now, this injunction was the result of that highly watched antitrust lawsuit and trial that was brought by the app developer, Epic Games. After that long trial, the judge held that Apple didn't violate antitrust law, federal law, but did violate California's unfair competition law.

Now, as a result, the judge ordered Apple to change its App Store rules. And this is the key. This is what Apple does not want to happen. And this is why they filed that motion. The judge said that Apple must allow developers to direct app users to other ways to make purchases. The judge also said that Apple has to allow developers to communicate directly with their customers.

Now, why does that put the App Store in jeopardy? Well, that's because it allows these developers to potentially bypass Apple's fees, those fees that they charge for in-app purchases and other purchases of 15% and 30%. Now, those fees are fueled by estimated gross sales in the App Store that CNBC analysts say are more than $64 billion in 2020. Now the antitrust lawyers that I have talked with, trying to really handicap what is going to happen here, they say that Apple definitely has a good chance at having these changes put on hold.

And that's because Apple is going to really get two bites at the apple. They're going to be able to ask this of two different courts, if they need to. First, they'll be able to ask the district court, where this trial was held, for the hold. And secondly, if that judge says no-- and she may not want to overturn her very own order-- then they'll get to go and ask that same question, that same request of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. That will be before an appellate panel of judges, if it happens.

Now, it's less likely that this district court judge, as I said, will want to reverse her order-- better odds at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. But either way, Apple is probably protected for some time from really having to implement these changes because these cases, particularly the appeal that's been filed both by Apple and by Epic, that, attorneys say, could take more than a year to resolve. Alexis.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, Alexis Keenan, thanks so much. We're going to keep our eye out for all the news coming out of Apple.