Apple CEO Tim Cook visits the Fifth Avenue Apple Store on September 16, 2022 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images
An appeals court mostly sided with him on Monday Apple about its App Store rules in a suit with Epic Games.
The decision signals that Apple’s control over the App Store and the fees it charges are unlikely to change significantly as Epic Games has an ongoing legal challenge.
Apple celebrated it as a victory.
“Today’s decision confirms Apple’s resounding victory in this case, with nine out of 10 lawsuits deciding in Apple’s favour,” a company spokesman told CNBC. “For the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple complies with state and federal antitrust laws.”
Apple fiercely controls the App Store, which is the only way to sell iPhone apps to consumers. The tech giant’s employees review every update before it goes live and can reject entire apps, and the company captures up to 30% of all digital sales in iPhone apps. The store remains a key source of revenue for the company, contributing to Apple’s $78.1 billion in service revenue for fiscal 2022.
App and game developers have grappled with store rules and fees for years, and Epic Games has claimed to represent not only itself but the interests of the broader developer ecosystem by suing Apple, claiming it violated antitrust laws.
Epic sued Apple after the gaming company introduced its own payment system in Fortnite, which broke Apple’s rules and eventually resulted in the company being banned from the App Store. It culminated in a week-long trial two years ago in California, where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney testified.
Monday’s Ninth Circuit Court ruling upheld the decision, which primarily found Apple did not violate antitrust laws by banning competing app marketplaces on iPhones.
Apple mostly won the first court battle, with the judge finding that it did not monopolize any market.
However, the iPhone maker lost a claim and had to allow developers to place links in their apps to allow users to make purchases outside of the App Store.
The appeals court did not reverse that decision, which referred to California law and is the only allegation that Apple says was not decided in its favor. Whether the company is forced to allow links to external payments will be decided at possible future hearings.
Apple said in its statement that it was considering further steps that could include an appeal to the Supreme Court. Whether Epic Games will help pay Apple’s legal fees will also be decided in a lower court.
A representative from Epic Games declined to comment.