Update 1:45 PM ET: We're hearing the issue may be resolved and the service restored. If you're a developer who was affected by the account lock, try again and let us know what happens.
We've now heard this from multiple developers, so it's clear that something's a bit out of whack in the App Store approval process for applications that use in-app purchasing.
As a matter of policy, Apple requires developers to test in-app purchases (IAP) with a test user account before the application in question can be approved. Unfortunately,
this test account has been offline for a week now the ability for developers to create test accounts has been offline for a week now with no word as to why. If you are a developer, you can see the relevant thread on Apple's own developer forums here.
Could it be that approvals/account creations are being quietly suspended while Apple's lawyers investigate the Lodsys patent claim, which directly relates to in-app purchase capabilities? Or is this a maintenance issue, and the specificity of the block for apps that use IAP is just a coincidence? We've asked for clarification and will let you know if we hear from Apple.
Until then, developers may be unable to get approval for any apps that use an in-app purchasing mechanism. Here's hoping this gets fixed soon.
Update 12:15 PM ET: While some developers with pre-existing test accounts for IAP have been able to submit their apps using those accounts, it's not clear whether the apps are actually getting all the way through the approval process. At least one commenter on the Developer Forums notes that his app that includes IAP is in an odd limbo: it was approved more than 36 hours earlier, but despite an iTunes Connect status of "Ready for Sale," it's not showing up in the store ("this item is unavailable" on link). To be sure, none of these are necessarily conclusive evidence of deliberate action on Apple's part to suspend IAP-related app approvals.